BBB Top Prospect Countdown #1: Aaron Judge
He’s the Yankees first round pick in the 2013 Amateur Draft out of Fresno State. He’s an outfielder in the Yankees farm system. He stands at 6’7”, and he weighs 275 pounds. He’s one of the most intimidating players in minor league baseball. He has a strong arm, and is a huge power bat. He also wears #99 in Scranton. His name is Aaron Judge, and he’s the Yankees top prospect.
|Photo Via Today's Knuckleball|
For starters, Judge looks like he comes straight out of a videogame. I know I mentioned his size, but allow me to reiterate it. The man stands at 6 feet, 7 inches tall and weighs 275 pounds! As a corner outfielder, that kind of size is unique to the position and a major reason that he is such a highly touted prospect.
But Judge didn’t become the Yankees top prospect solely based on size alone, although it did help him garner some of the attention he has. Judge showed his offensive ability in his first season as a professional in 2014 hitting .308/.419/.486 with 17 home runs, 78 RBI, 24 doubles and an OPS of .905 in 131 games. Judge would also play in the Arizona Fall League where he produced (as many Yankee prospects do in the AFL) hitting .278 with four homers and five doubles in 24 games. He also showcased his arm strength was 4 outfield assists in those games.
Judge was a non-roster invitee to the Yankees spring training roster and his spring began with a bang. In the Yankees first Judge hit a game-tying 3-run blast in the ninth inning to tie the game. He finished the spring strong, but was still not ready to make the league to the major leagues.
Judge split the 2015 season almost even between Trenton and Scranton playing 63 games with the double-A affiliate and 61 with the triple-A affiliate. Judge would rise to the occasion shining with the Trenton Thunder putting together a slash line of .284/.350/.516 with 12 dingers and 14 doubles.
However, upon reaching AAA, Judge experienced his first struggles as a professional baseball player. Judge saw his slash line drop across the board to a mere .224/.308/.373 as he struggled particularly hitting MLB-ready off-speed pitches. Although this presented the Yankees top prospect with a learning curve, Judge used his struggles as a time to work his approach to hitting and his discipline, because his swing is one that lacks any major flaws.
|Photo Via MILB.com|
“It helped me work on my patience,” Judge said. “That’s the biggest thing. At Double-A I saw a lot of guys that really came after you. Triple-A was a lot of older guys that had been in the league, up and down, and they know how to pitch. Just trying to wait back and get your pitch is really the biggest thing for me.”
This Spring, Judge is once again a non-roster invitee and is being mentored by Carlos Beltran. Ironically, Judge is the likely successor to Beltran in right field so this relationship makes all the sense in the world.
|Photo Via Times Leader|
“He’s a guy, the future of this organization, and I feel like I’ll help him,” Beltran said. “When I was growing up and in the big leagues the first year, I had some veteran guys who took care of me, helped me, along the way.”
Already, Judge has impressed at big league camp hitting a towering 400+ foot bomb over the massive scoreboard in left-center field at the Yankees spring training facility. Although he is not yet on the 40-man roster, Judge is an injury away, or a hot streak in the minors away from being added to that 40-man and getting the call-up to the Bronx.
Being the Yankees top prospect across many boards, with others crowning Jorge Mateo as the top prospect, Judge obviously brings a lot of excitement to Yankee fans and fans of baseball. The highly anticipated “Judgement Day” as it has been referred to on social media is closer than we expect.
“I think it’s adjusting how pitchers are going to pitch him, is the bottom line,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He went from a league where he was doing really well in Double-A and had some struggles in Triple-A, but you have a lot of crafty people in Triple-A. It’s learning to make adjustments and we feel that he’s made some adjustments in his swing that should help with that.”
Judge has certainly experienced the highs as a Yankee prospect and he seems to have the necessary mindset to becoming a successful big leaguer.
"You're always going to have ups and downs and I kind of learn more from the negative than the positive," Judge said when asked about his offseason workouts. "So just trying to build on that for the next year was really the goal."
Judge should have a large impact for the Yankees upon becoming a regular in right field for the Yankees. It’s pretty safe to say that the he is one of the most exciting position players to come out of the Yankees farm system in recent memory.
Judge turns 24 just over three weeks into the season, and he will start the season in familiar territory with the RailRiders. Judge also needs rule-5 draft protection this fall so for that reason, and him being the highly touted prospect that he is, it is safe to say he will be an addition to the 40-man roster at some point this year. My expectation is that we see Judge as a September call-up, but if he makes the adjustment and rakes minor league pitching, or the Yankees outfield can’t stay healthy, he may be up sooner than expected. But rest assured, he’s on the cusp of receiving a call-up, and that is a day Yankee fans are chomping at the bit for, for good reason – he’s a big deal. Check out his MLB comparisons below to see just how big of a deal he is.
MLB Comparison: Giancarlo Stanton and Dave Winfield
You can view his minor league stats here.
Article by: Chad Raines
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