Aaron Judge is a freak of nature that represents a promising piece of the future of the New York Yankees.
As the likes of Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira ride off into the sunset, the new generation of Yankees are now starting to show their promise and ability to play at the Major League level. Over the weekend, both Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge have demonstrated the baseball world their highly-touted skills.
That case is especially true for Aaron Judge, a 6’7″, 275 physical specimens in the mould of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Giancarlo Stanton. While Judge’s hit tool has always been advanced as well as his keen batting eye, there have been concerns in the past about his ability to make contact because of his long arms.
A highly-touted prospect ever since he was drafted in the first round of the 2014 draft, Judge has put up solid minor league statistics, albeit not off-the-charts like those of 2015 National League Rookie of the Year and runaway MVP favorite Kris Bryant. Some of those statistics include a .278 average (.290 in 2016), 56 home runs in over 1,200 plate appearances, and a very solid .845 OPS. The HR/AB rate is slightly disappointing, but he grades out as a 65-grade power hitter.
However, in the first two games as a major leaguer, Judge has blasted two home runs. His first was a 446-foot behemoth to the deepest part of Yankee Stadium, Monument Park.
If that display of pop is any indication, the Bronx faithful should be in for a treat.
As if his first Major League at-bat wasn’t enough, Judge promptly hit another big fly on Sunday morning, making the Yankee front office look extremely wise and becoming just the second Yankee ever to hit two home runs in his first two career games.
While it is not rare for average minor league power hitters to arrive at the Show and start launching home runs (Trevor Story, etc.has the ability to), Aaron Judge’s swing, as shown from the previous episode, seems to be geared more for contact than it is for power. Short and can hit the ball with authority to all fields.
It is worth noting that Judge needs to develop his plate discipline to further succeed as a high-average hitter. While his MiLB batting average isn’t as impressive as we’d like to see from a young hitter, it is worth noting that he spent the entire 2016 season at AAA, the hardest level in the Minors to play at. The strikeout numbers are there. As he struck out 98 times n 92 games, which amounts to around 160 in a full season, assuming Judge plays 150 games. In an era of free-swinging power hitters and big-time strikeout pitchers, that number of strikeouts is not unacceptable.
Throughout the first four games of Judge’s promising young career, he’s banged out five hits, three for extra bases (two homers), twelve total bases, collected two walks and struck out four times. The swings and misses loom large, but his strike zone chart shows his ability to cover the whole plate.
The ability to hit low pitches out of the area is critical.
As a tall, big right fielder, the Giancarlo Stanton comparison comes up very frequently for Aaron Judge. However, scouts do believe that Judge might eventually be a better pure hitter with less power (basically no one possesses Stanton-like power). Stanton’s hit tool has been largely lacking over the last season and a half.
While Judge’s sample is too small for scouts and Yankee fans to judge (pun intended) his overall ability, he is a proven player with a sparkling collegiate and minor league record. His future should be very enticing for Yankee fans all across the world.