2018 Pinstripe Preview: Brandon Drury
Brian Cashman has made a lot of high profile moves over the course of the past few seasons, and while those moves have put the core of this year’s roster in place, a less heralded trade he made early in spring training could play an important role in how the roster shapes up entering the season. The Yankees acquired Brandon Drury in a three-team trade with the Tampa Bay Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks that cost them pitcher Taylor Widener and infielder Nick Solak. Drury is 25 years old and has primarily played second and third base in his three-year career. He has also played some outfield and the flexibility that he has displayed in his career thus far makes him an intriguing option who seems like he still has room to grow.
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While Drury hasn’t exactly put up eye popping numbers in his short career thus far, his numbers show that he does have some tools and because he is still young, he could still have some upside as a hitter. In 2017 he batted .267 with 13 home runs, 63 RBI and a .317 OBP. He doesn't walk much but, he also doesn't strike out all that much either which is a plus. While those aren’t the most impressive numbers, Drury is still young and the Yankees saw something in him that they liked. The numbers don’t jump off the page, but he is just 25 and still has room to grow.
Drury could potentially be very useful to this Yankee team in the field. Drury has primarily been an infielder and with the Yankees’ two biggest holes being at second and third base, Drury will have multiple positions to make a play for this spring. In 2017 Drury started 109 games at second base, making 10 errors and putting up a .977 fielding percentage. While it may be preferable for him to lower that total over a full season Drury has the tools to be a good fielder. He is agile with a strong arm to help him make tough plays all over the diamond and has been working to increase his arm strength and improve his footwork. While he may have some room to improve overall in the field, Drury was a net positive in 2017 and should be going forward.
I have talked pretty positively about Drury in this preview, so far, and I’m sure many of you have read a lot of positive things about him too, but this is a player who batted .267 with 119 hits and 13 home runs last year, so I think we just need a little perspective. Drury fits the profile of other players the Yankees have acquired in recent years and that is one of a player with good tools and room to grow but who hasn’t put it on the field yet. The two most notable examples of this are Aaron Hicks and Didi Gregorius with Didi probably being an easier comparison. While I’m not saying that Drury is going to turn into a .287 hitter with close to 30 homers in the coming years, Didi has provided a blueprint that we can compare Drury to in the coming years. The Yankees have spoke glowingly about him and his work ethic since he arrived and as evidenced with Hicks and Didi, they will not give up on a player even if they struggle early.
Heading into this season, Drury has tweaked his swing slightly to get more balls in the air and over the fence. Drury himself has stated that he would like to turn 10 to 15 of his 37 doubles from last season into home runs. Hitting coach Marcus Thames has praised Drury saying “The work he put in this winter is really paying off”. While he may still be a work in progress I believe Drury has a lot to offer and for fans to be excited about. His role at this point is still unclear but multiple pathways to the final roster remain for Drury. While Miguel Andujar has come out like a man on fire to stake his claim for the third base job, the Yankees are moving more cautiously with prized prospect Gleyber Torres. With Torres still making his way back from Tommy John surgery and with the possibility of the Yankees manipulating his service time to gain an extra year of control, it seems like second base may be Drury’s clearest path to securing a roster spot. What he will give the team once he gets there is unclear but I’m sure we’re all eager to find out.
Article by Matt GrazianoFollow @mattgraz930