What exactly do the Yankees have in Miguel Andujar? And why do so many smart baseball people see his skills so differently? The first game of the Grapefruit Season proved that seeing might not be believing.
I have said it before, and I will say it again: I love the Yankees 3rd baseman, Miguel Andujar. And the more I see him, the more I believe in him. He seems to have that quality, that thing that separates a player from a star.
But the last time I checked, “that thing” does not show up in the box score. Andujar can either play or he can not. Of course, like all prospects, evaluators must project him as much on his future abilities as by current accomplishments. None of this unique to Miguel. Nor is having different evaluators arrive at different conclusions.
However, it is the range of opinions about who and what Andujar is, and can be, that is so intriguing. Some rankings, like MLB, have him rated as the Yankees 7th best prospect. That’s not bad in a stacked system. But he does not make their top 100 prospects. That’s not so good, especially for a player who finished in Double-A. No rankings have him in their top 100.
He is the man who seems to do better as he advances, the one who appears to be an All-Star everywhere he plays.
Keith Law included him in his top ten Yankees prospects but put Tyler Wade ahead of him. I like Wade, and I hope he will be the Yankees utility infielder of the future, but that is his ceiling. Baseball America had him out of the top ten and ranked below Dustin Fowler, who comes in at number 13 for MLB. Again, I like Fowler, but his power numbers might make him a Quadruple-A player.
Assume the Position
Nowhere is he ranked very highly by position. Keith does not even have him as one of the top ten 3rd basemen in the minors. MLB had him at number 8 last year, but read what they said about the player ranked 7th, Ryan McMahon
“McMahon produced everywhere he went in his first three pro seasons, batting a combined .297/.372/.524 and leading the high-Class A California League with 43 doubles last year, but his numbers have plummeted in Double- A in 2016. Colorado still believes in his offensive upside because he has a smooth left-handed swing with bat speed and loft, generating power to all fields. McMahon has some feel for hitting and the patience to take walks, but he must make adjustments and cut down on his strikeouts.
McMahon has the tools to be an asset at the hot corner, but he is an erratic defender who has led his league in errors by a third baseman in each of the past two years, including 39 in 2015. A good athlete with solid arm strength and reliable hands, he gets into trouble with his footwork. He began playing some first base this year because the Rockies are set at third base with Nolan Arenado“.
And that guy was supposed to be better than Miguel. But that was last year. Andujar played so well in 2016 that he moved all the way up to…7th!
Is There A Limit on the Use of the Word, All-Star?
And yet everyone who sees Andujar play comes away more impressed than that. Just listen to last night’s broadcast. Of all the players in camp, the one the Great Ken Singleton (GKS) singled out as impressive is Miguel Andujar.
Micheal Kay also related his conversation with Alex Rodriguez, a man with perhaps more baseball knowledge than anyone not employed by the Elias Sports Bureau. He reportedly “went out of his way” to say that Andujar has “unbelievable skills” and “could be a star in the big leagues”–right before Andujar hit a triple.
Those comments seem more in line with his performance and what others who see him play think. Miguel hit .273/.332/.410 last year and collected the second most RBI’s (83) of any Yankee’s minor leaguer. He also collected the fourth most hits (140). When he went to the AFL, he continued to hit against that better competition, slashing .284/.364/.373. He ended up collecting 19 hits in 19 games and 25 total bases.
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The baseball people who saw all of that certainly thought of him as playing at a high level. He was named an All-Star each of the last two years in the minors. In Arizona, his play garnered another All-Star selection, as well as being named a Rising Star. And MiLB named him an organizational All-Star for 2016.
That all sounds like a top 100 player, maybe a top 50 player. Well, I remember when Jesus Montero was the third-ranked prospect in all of baseball so I know how flawed the rankings can be.
The Pudding is Delicious
Even his play in last night’s game does not clear the matter up. His box score shows he got two hits, including a double and a triple. But the triple was off the glove of a defender, and the GKS made it clear that the outfielder badly misplayed the other ball. Both balls could have been caught. On the other hand, they were both struck well off the bat, which projects well.
Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the taste. All the questions will be answered when Andujar gets his chance in the Bronx if he can conquer Triple-A. I am going to make a couple of guesses. One is that he gets his chance in September. And two, I think he is that guy that A-Rod and the GKS see. He is the man who seems to do better as he advances, the one who appears to be an All-Star everywhere he plays.
I said I would say it, again and again, I am saying it: I love Miguel Andujar. Now I need to figure out how to break it to my previous man-crush: the Great Ken Singleton.