The New York Yankees have had a long and celebrated lineage of first basemen throughout the history of the franchise. From Lou Gehrig to Don Mattingly, the Bombers have rarely been without an impact player at first base. Right now, Mark Teixeira is the guy in the Bronx, and some would say Tex can now be considered a bust for his declining numbers, his most recent injury, and the remaining years and dollars on his contract. Yankees’ fans may not have long to wait for his replacement. Meet Greg Bird. Drafted in the fifth round of the 2011 draft as a catcher, Bird was moved to first base after chronic back pain kept Bird from playing much during his first season in the Yankees’ organization.
The 6’3″, 215 lb. youngster from the Denver-metropolitan area has big time power and plate discipline. During 2013, Bird, while playing at Low-A Charleston, had a slash line of .288/.428/.511 (170 wRC+) with 20 home runs, and 107 walks in only 130 games. His swing is long, but possesses foul pole-to-foul pole power, allowing pitches to enter deep into the zone before mashing it with a natural uppercut swing that is custom-built for Yankee Stadium.
Now before we can crown Greg Bird as the second coming of the Iron Horse, there is some downside to his game. Being a former catcher, Bird is still learning on the job at first base. He possesses a strong arm, but is still learning the intricacies of the position. A Gold Glove winner this kid will never be, but his work ethic and preparation has been spoken about highly by Yankees’ minor league officials. If Bird can remain a patient and powerful hitter, along with continuing to develop his glove, there should be an opportunity for him to continue moving up the ranks of the Yankees farm system, with an estimated arrival in the Bronx sometime between late 2015 and early 2016. If you get the chance to go out to a minor league ballgame he is playing in, do so, and enjoy what could develop into one of the next great Yankees power hitters of the next generation.