Yankees state of the system: Third Base
Whoever starts the year at third base for the Yankees is probably nothing more than a seat-warmer for Miguel Andujar.
That’s not to say that Todd Frazier wouldn’t still have value to the team. He could back up Andujar while also providing a right-handed alternative to Greg Bird over at first.
But Andujar — who was just ranked as baseball’s 59th-best prospect and fourth-best third base prospect by Baseball America — is the team’s future.
He was arguably the team’s most productive minor league hitter last season, at any level.
Splitting the season roughly even between Double-A and Triple-A, Andujar posted a line of .315/.352/.498 with 16 home runs, 36 doubles and 82 RBI.
He struck out just 71 times in 480 at-bats — about once every seven times up.
The Yankees signed Andujar as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic during the 2011-2012 signing period, four months before the team inked Luis Severino. Andujar received a $750k signing bonus, the most of anyone in his class.
A six-foot muscleman, Andujar possesses a rare combination of power and plate coverage. He’s still quite young — 23-years-old come Opening Day. For a young hitter, Andujar is remarkably refined.
He briefly reached the majors in 2017. The team called him up to start at DH in Chicago on June 28th.
During his one opportunity, Andujar went bacon, eggs and ham. In one of the more impressive debuts in recent Yankees’ history, finishing 3-for-4 with a double, four RBI and a walk against White Sox starter Carlos Rodon and four subsequent relievers.
However, Andujar was sent back to Triple-A Scranton after the game.
Andujar re-emerged as a September call-up, joining the Yanks in the middle of the month after the RailRiders’ season ended. He appeared in four contests and collected one hit — another double — in three at-bats.
Though some scouts are concerned about his ability to play third base in the bigs, Andujar’s best defensive tool is his throwing arm. With enough reps, he should be able to handle the position. He may never be Brooks Robinson, but the general belief is that he’ll provide an adequate glove.
Andujar still has some rough edges to smooth out, both offensively and defensively. He doesn’t walk enough. He might not be a Gold Glove defender, but his upside is tremendous.
He will compete for the starting role immediately. Unlike with Torres, the Yankees won’t have to worry about service time with Miguel. They broke that seal last summer.
Even if the Yankees re-sign Todd Frazier, or even if Torreyes wins the Opening Day spot, Andujar has a great chance to assume the hot corner full-time during the 2018 season.
He’s clearly ready. Defensively, his glove is playable. Frazier is still a better fielder, but Andujar’s offensive potential is too high to ignore.
Andujar has the potential to become an All-Star and one of the better third basemen in the league.