Big League Debut: A Royal and Two Yankees Make Their Debuts

Kelvin Gutierrez, 3B (KC)- The Royals acquired Kelvin Gutierrez from the Nationals as part of the return for reliever Kelvin Herrera. Gutierrez very much fits the mold of a player that will benefit from the new Major League ball. He has supreme plate skills and quick hands at the plate. He uses all fields and wears out gaps. I projected him for 10-16 homers with 20+ doubles a season, but his brief showing in Triple-A with the new balls makes me think I need to ratchet the power numbers up some, but then the heavy ground ball (64 GB%) numbers slap me in the face. The strikeout rates will always be above average with Gutierrez, and he should settle in around 20-22% in this era.

Gutierrez is an above-average defender with a strong arm and is the best option at the hot corner currently in the organization. He’s athletic enough to potentially add some versatility to the profile, but that isn’t necessary at the moment with the Royals lack of third base depth in the upper tiers of the organization. Gutierrez was ranked 18th in our Prospects Live Royals top 30 list. He was performing well in Omaha prior to his call-up, slashing .333/.443/.439 with two homers in 18 games in Triple-A. He’s worth a pickup in all AL-only leagues, and in 20+ team mixed formats.

Thairo Estrada, INF (NYY)- Estrada has a utility ceiling through and through, and the ever-growing Yankees injured list has created a need for the 23-year-old. He’s a plus defender that can play a big league shortstop, in the field anyways, as his offensive profile has some questions. Estrada makes enough contact and is allergic to strikeouts but a little too aggressive for someone that lacks power. A gunshot wound in the hip in a robbery attempt cost him essentially all of 2018, but he did return during the Arizona Fall League. He looked rusty but the game looked too fast for him, but he’s back on track now and will be an up-and-down guy for a few seasons before settling in as cheap infield depth for the Bombers. He’s not worthy of a roster spot in anything but 30-team formats. Estrada ranked 18th on the Prospects Live Yankees top 30 list.

Mike Ford, 1B (SEA)- Ford probably popped on your radar when the Mariners took him in the Rule 5 Draft in 2017, but he didn’t make the roster and was offered back to the Yankees. Ford is an easy guy to root for, an undrafted two-way player at Princeton that has hit and worked his way up the ladder in the Yankees system. Ford has a career .372 OBP in the minors, and has above-average pop. At 26 years old, Ford is old for prospect lists but can be a second-division regular or a platoon partner at 1B or DH. He can be left on the wire in your fantasy league.