Yankees Prospect Profile Number Two: Aaron Judge
As we continue along with the Yanks Go Yard Prospect Profile series, we move down the MLB pipeline to the second ranked prospect for the New York Yankees, Aaron Judge.
Scouting grades (courtesy of MLB Pipeline): Hit: 50 | Power: 60 | Run: 50 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55
One of the New York Yankees’ three first round selections in the 2013 June amateur draft, outfielder Aaron Judge wasted no time in establishing himself as the organization’s premier power hitting prospect. With his imposing 6’7 275 lb. frame, Judge looks more like a linebacker than an outfielder. His calling card is his prodigious right handed power (he’s currently leading the International League in home runs), but he’s far from a one-dimensional player. Judge is an excellent athlete for his size who runs well, is a solid defender, and possesses a plus arm in right.
Related Story: Aaron Judge is Pushing for a Big League Promotion
After signing for an over-slot $1.8 million bonus as the 32nd overall pick in 2013, Aaron Judge suffered a quad strain which prevented him from making his professional debut until the next spring. Judge split the 2014 season between Low-A Charleston and High-A Tampa, hitting a combined .308/.419/.486 in 563 PAs. He was one of several top prospects sent to the Arizona Fall League that year and earned a spot on the Fall Stars squad after posting a .278/.377/.467 (133 wRC+) slash line in 106 PAs for the Scottsdale Scorpions.
Judge began the 2015 campaign in Double-A Trenton and continued to impress, compiling a .284/.350/.516 (147 wRC+) line while socking 12 longballs in 280 PAs before a promotion to Scranton Wilkes-Barre at the end of June. International League pitchers presented Judge with his first real challenge. He struck out in 28.5% of his plate appearances during his first stint in Triple-A, struggling to adjust to the craftier veteran arms who found holes in his swing. His 98 wRC+ was the first below average mark of his professional career.
After spending the winter working on his problems with breaking stuff and pitches away, Judge has been considerably more successful his second time through the International League. Three months into the season, the 24-year-old is hitting .266/.353/.490 (143 wRC+) with 16 home runs, while lowering his strikeout rate to 23.4%. Even more impressive, he has shown the ability to overcome adversity and make adjustments, which bodes well for his chances of making a successful jump to the big leagues.
With Carlos Beltran almost certain to depart following the 2016 season, Aaron Judge looks like the heir apparent in right field next year if all goes to plan. It seems all but certain that his first taste of MLB action will come in the second half. Long seen as the crown jewel in the Yankees’ farm system, Judge is the best position player prospect the team has developed since Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano. New York is seemingly committed to rebuilding from within, which leaves Aaron Judge with the weight of the franchise on his massive shoulders. Time will tell if he can carry it.