Was Top Prospect, Now ROTY Frontrunner – Aaron Judge

Playing “Where’s Waldo” with Yankees starting right fielder Aaron Judge is an impossibility.  The former Yankee prospect, and leading AL Rookie Of The Year candidate stands out no matter where he is at a stout 6′ 7″ tall and 275ish pounds. He is built like a power forward, and in the world of baseball a player of that size is usually reserved for big plodding first basemen (see Richie Sexson) or flame throwing hurlers (see CC Sabathia circa 2007, as now he’s less flame more junk).

I am sure the assumption many would have made was that Judge should be the every day designated hitter, pointing at the pitcher and yelling “JUDGE SMASH.” However a deeper look finds a player who is an above average right fielder and leads all right fielders in defensive runs saved (as of 5/29/17); none more spectacular than a recent one run game preserving catch off the bat of Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays.

There is something almost majestic about seeing someone that size covering ground to the right center field gap like a galloping bronco then laying out full extension to his backhand to snag the ball.

How did we get here?  What changed from the brief cup of coffee Judge had in 2016 where he struck out in exactly 50% of his at bats?
For one, Judge has cut down on his strikeouts considerably settling in the 30-35% range today. This combined with a better eye than some scouts predicted and unquestioned raw power from his massive frame has provided the Yankees with a young building block not just for the future but right now.
A BABIP of .394 does warn that some regression is inevitable but suffice to say Judge will not be among the Yankees Top 50 prospects next year on Prospects1500.com because he is an MVP candidate this year, plus he’s already eclipsed the rookie eligible 130 MLB at bats so can’t really be on any prospects list next year anyway.
Yankee championship teams of the late 90’s and early 2000’s were built around young players up the middle supplemented by veteran talent. Stay tuned in June as we will be profiling the top prospects at the following key positions in the Yankee system – SP, RP, SS, CF and C.
Article featured image of Aaron Judge – courtesy of SI.com

Born in Brooklyn, NY but currently living in enemy territory just west of Boston, I am an avid Yankee fan who has been passionate about baseball my entire life. My Mom stood in line overnight just to get me tickets to the World Series in 1996. A father of 2 young sons, I hope to share my passion for baseball with them in the future, and who knows? Maybe one day they will be featured here on Prospects1500.

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