He had always been known as one of the more selective hitters not only among the younger position players but in the entire Yankees organization but Estrada, who struck out just 67 times in 455 at-bats last year, really became even more selective in 2016.
“It went pretty well last year,” Estrada said through the help of a translator. “What I think went well was selecting good pitches [to hit]. It made me a better hitter and it helped my team.”
It also propelled him from short-season A-ball the year prior to a prominent role in high-A Tampa just one year later and he quickly became one of the better all-around prospects in a prospect-heavy Yankee farm system.
“I think I’m a good player but I don’t really focus on if I’m a prospect or not,” he admitted. “I just want to go, compete and play, and give my best.”
Humble in his accomplishments and even with his place in the Yankee organization, Estrada, possessing both a professional and unflappable demeanor, is an old school, hit-first kind of player. That doesn’t mean he can’t play defense because he absolutely can and the former shortstop has been getting some time at both second and third base over the past couple of years too.
“I feel really good whether it’s second base, shortstop, even third base. I feel good playing in the infield.”
He has the speed to play outfield too but the Yankees haven’t talked to Estrada about that potential possibility just yet. But his current combination of consistent hitting and infield versatility was a major reason why the recently turned 21-year old received some playing time in big league Spring Training camp this year.
“I’m feeling good, everything is going well. [In Big League camp] it was a beautiful experience being able to ask the more experienced players questions and picking their brains, and whenever they gave me the opportunity to play I did my best.”
He says he exploited his opportunities in big league camp to soak in as much information as possible.
“How they take their at-bats, learning the game situations and what you should do as a hitter,” he said of the biggest lesson he learned in camp. “Obviously the ultimate goal is how to bring runs in and that’s what I picked their brains about.”
Not just a born hitter but one who studies the art of hitting every chance he gets, Estrada has quickly become one of the more consistent players on both sides of the ball down on the farm for the Yankees and he believes this is who he is going forward.
“Yes it was a good year last season and I’ll always show up to the field and do my best, and I want to improve year after year.
“I’m very excited. I can not wait for the season to start so I can get on the field and play, and enjoy this year.”
A big reason for his excitement is his physical maturity and ever-growing selectivity at the plate, and after hitting a career-high eight home runs last year Estrada thinks both the physical and mental parts of his game are coming together.
“Both. I obviously worked a lot throughout the offseason [last year] and being able to select good pitches to hit, combining those two things helped me to have success.
“I’ve always been able to hit the ball but now that I’m able to select better pitches to hit I can be more consistent hitting the ball in the right spot,” he concluded.