On just his second swing in the majors, Aaron Judge launched a fastball 446 feet over Yankee Stadium’s center field wall. One pitch earlier, he whiffed on a slow-hanging curveball which landed belt-high across the plate.
These two swings portray two different narratives, but to Brian Cashman, it was the latter that recapitulated Judge’s two-month rookie stint.
The Yankees general manager said Monday night on YES Network’s ‘Yankees Hot Stove’ program that Judge had recently been working on his swing at Yankee Stadium, particularly looking to improve his balance, composure, and plate approach on the lower half and front side.
“He’s a big kid and strikeouts are going to be part of his game,” Cashman said. “It’s just about limiting them. He can’t maintain a career at the big-league level with that many strikeouts, but if he can shave some off, we’ll take the power trade-off.”
The 24-year-old power threat, who stands in the box at a ghastly 6-foot-7, hit just .179 with four home runs after being called up in mid-August last season. Despite a lack of power, there was an abundance of strikeouts, specifically 42 in 84 total at-bats. According to Cashman, it was this disproportion that hindered Judge’s previous attempts at a big league promotion.
“His history in the last two years of promotion in the Triple-A level and then last year with us was failure, adjustments, success,” Cashman said. “He experienced some failure at the major league level, and so I think that whole experience in the short sample will serve him well as he approaches 2017. And he’s got options. If he’s not quite ready, he gets to go down [to Triple-A] and finish himself off and wait until he’s ready.”
Cashman expects Judge to compete with Aaron Hicks for the starting right field job in spring training next month in Tampa, Fla.