The Background: The Yankees selected Wade in the fourth round of the 2013 draft as a SoCal prep shortstop, signing him for a little over $370,000. He got a somewhat aggressive assignment to Charleston in his first full pro season, considering he wasn’t a highly-touted prep pick, and both his raw athleticism and his general rawness showed up there. He progressed to Tampa in 2015 and prospect team member Jeff Moore saw a future big leaguer whose “contact skills, left-handed bat and ability to play two up-the-middle positions [gave] him a chance to play a nice role on a big-league roster.” I got eyes on him in 2016 in Trenton and saw much of the same, although I thought his athleticism was starting to show up more in the baseball skills now. He faded a bit down the stretch in Trenton, but overall put together a solid performance for a 21-year-old in Double-A. With the acquisition of Gleyber Torres at the trade deadline, the Yankees sent Wade to the AFL for the second straight season, this time to get some reps in the outfield. This year in Scranton he has played all three outfield positions in addition to shortstop, second, and third. He’s in the midst of a bit of a breakout season, adding a bit of pop to the profile and improving his efficiency on the bases.
Scouting Report: Wade has long been a scout favorite, in addition to being a BP Prospect team favorite. He’s got an athletic frame, but one with still a bit of projection to dream on. He’s a present borderline plus-plus runner and has seen time at six different positions. The speed plays well on the grass, but he’s continued to play mostly shortstop where his instincts, range, and actions are all good enough for the 6. The arm can be a little scattershot, but that might be less of an issue at the keystone. He won’t kill you anywhere you put him, and could be average or better at multiple spots. While he gets the epithets “gamer” and “baseball player” attached to him, he’s more naturally gifted at the plate than you’d glean from those descriptors. He’s a potential plus hitter with enough of an approach to lay off the bad stuff and enough doubles power to keep pitchers from just rearing back and firing it into his kitchen. This is to say he should have a shiny enough OBP to make his speed a real potential weapon on the basepaths as well. There’s always been more raw pop here than has shown up in games, but it’s creeped into the profile more in 2017, which is why he was in consideration for our midseason 50 before this call-up. The likely outcome here is still a good utility guy/second division starter type due to the lack of a present carrying tool, but I won’t be surprised if he plays his way into an everyday role due to his versatility, hit tool, and athleticism.
Immediate Big League Future: This may not be a long-term assignment for Wade—although hamstrings can be tricky—and the Yanks have a spate of lefties coming up on the docket. That said, he’s a useful fit for the Bombers’ current roster as I outlined last week. It’s a polished, major-league-ready profile, and I don’t expect him to be overmatched, although he might not be an impact offensive player right off the bat. —Jeffrey Paternostro
Fantasy Impact: Yankees prospect Tyler Wade has the one thing that is hardest to find in fantasy right now: the ability to steal bases. In Triple-A this season, the 22-year-old stole 24 bases and was caught only four times. He also swung the bat well in Scranton, hitting .313/.390/.445 with five home runs, 25 RBI and an impressive 59 runs in 70 games. These numbers represent a significant improvement over past seasons, which could represent development as a player but could also represent good fortune on batted balls since his walk rate and strikeout rate in 2017 are nearly identical to the figures he posted in Double-A last season.
Primarily a shortstop, Wade was called up due to the hamstring injury sustained by starting second baseman Starlin Castro. It’s not clear if Castro will land on the DL or not, so Wade might not get much of a chance to play in the short term. However, if Castro’s injury keeps him sidelined for a few weeks, Wade could get a significant amount of playing time at the keystone. And even if Castro returns this week, Wade’s defensive versatility and Chase Headley’s ongoing struggles could lead to playing time at third base for the rookie, too.
The question marks around Wade’s playing time cap his fantasy value in the short term. His stolen base potential makes him an enticing gamble in deep leagues, though, especially considering the current low-steal environment. His minor league walk rates make him a more compelling proposition in OBP leagues, although minor leaguers with good walk rates despite little home run power frequently have trouble posting good walk rates in the majors once pitchers figure out that they don’t have to worry much about giving up the longball. His roto appeal for now is limited to deep AL-only leagues, but if he ends up getting consistent playing time and stealing bases like he did in the minors, he could end up as an interesting play in mixed leagues, too. —Scooter Hotz