Yankees Aaron Judge is Healthy and Could See Some Action in Winter Ball


New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge is one of three players from the organization listed on the roster for the Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League that kicks off on Thursday.

After missing significant chunks of the 2016 regular season with knee and oblique injuries, New York Yankees rookie Aaron Judge may be in line for some playing time in winter ball.

Judge missed most of July with a mild PCL sprain and a bone bruise in his left knee while he was still in the minors. In addition, his big league debut was ended two weeks prematurely when he was shut down in mid-September with a strained right oblique.

The 24-year-old is one of three Yankees players listed on the rosters of the Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League, along with Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre infielder Cito Culver and the team’s ninth round selection in the 2014 draft, infielder Vince Conde, who split his season between Low-A Charleston, High-A Tampa, and Double-A Trenton.

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If he does play, which isn’t a sure thing at this point, Judge would easily be the highest profile Baby Bomber to see game action during winter ball. Other notable Yankees who are scheduled to play include Jorge Mateo, Cesar Puello, and Abiatal Avelino in the Dominican Winter League, Tito Polo and Sebastian Valle in the Mexican Pacific League, and Mark Montgomery, Francisco Diaz, and Angel Aguillar in the Venezuelan Winter League.

At the very least, we know that Judge has recovered from his oblique issue, as Dan Martin of Baseball America (subscription required) recently reported that the big man is working with minor league hitting coordinator James Rowson to “simplify his approach at the plate.” Rowson expressed confidence in Judge’s ability to adjust to the majors, telling Martin:

"I’ve watched him strike out—a lot—at times in the minors. This is one of those times. And sure, it’s a different level he’s at now, but he’s overcome this type of thing before. He’s got the talent to do it here, too."

Rowson also clarified that he’s not making any huge changes to Judge’s swing, insisting that the young slugger just needs to keep things simple.

"It’s not about making any major overhaul. He just needs to get back to doing what got him here, and the important thing is not to panic. We know that’s not going to happen because he’s been through this before."

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A winter ball stint would give Judge a chance to implement some of the ideas he’s working on with Rowson in a low-pressure environment while also getting his confidence back at the plate. This could be a valuable tune up to help him come into spring training firing on all cylinders.