Greg Bird has long been the New York Yankees’ prized prospect for the future at first base. His monster 2013 season left Yankees brass drooling at what Bird could in fact become in the not so distant future. Bird put a slow start to 2014 behind him very quickly and according to the Thunder’s official website, has taken home this week’s Eastern League Player of the Week award.
Bird was drafted in the fifth round of the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft out of high school. The 6’3”, 215 pound left handed first baseman had an uncanny plate discipline for such a youngster. In his first full season, at the age of 19, Bird flew threw two levels of ball with great success. His 2013 season at Charleston put him on the map. Bird batted .288 with 20 home runs and 84 RBI. That was just half the story of his age 20 season. Bird was a walk machine, leading the South Atlantic League and all of minor league baseball with 107 walks to help him register a .428 on base percentage. Add to his repertoire a sound glove and solid defense and the Yankees knew they had an elite prospect on their hands.
Bird began the 2014 season in extended spring training recovering from offseason injury woes. When he returned to Tampa for his High-A debut, he was inconsistent in getting his groove back. He was striking out a bit more than usual for someone with his established plate presence. By mid-July, however, he started to get back into it. Since being promoted to the Trenton Thunder just eight games ago, the Greg Bird from last season seems to be back.
This past week, Bird went 8-for-19 which was good for a .421 batting average. He belted three home runs while scoring eight runs and driving in three. His two doubles on the week gave hime a 1.000 slugging percentage as well. He certainly has not been intimidated by his recent promotion nor Double-A pitching.
This is the fifth time this season a Thunder player has captured the award. Bird follows Bryan Mitchell, Kyle Roller, Jeremy Bleich and Rob Refsnyder in earning the honor. While the reigning Eastern League champs may be having a somewhat down season, their players are still showing a lot of fight and, more importantly, a lot of promise for the Yankees future.