In his four-month stint with the Yankees last season, Todd Frazier was considered a cog in the machine. Granted, the 32-year-old New Jersey native did offer solid defense at third base and clutch at-bats on occasion, it was his role as a clubhouse leader and personality that was essential to New York’s late success.
This season, Frazier will play just 10 miles east of the Bronx, serving as the crosstown rival Mets’ starting third baseman. But he knows the Yankees will be well equipped at the hot corner, simply due to the presence of rookie Miguel Andujar.
In an interview with Dan Martin of the New York Post, Frazier recalls his first encounter with Andujar, who made his Major League debut back on June 28 against the White Sox in Chicago. In that game, Andujar — who was the designated hitter — went 3-for-4 with a double, a walk, and four RBI.
“He opened my eyes that game,” Frazier said of Andujar on Sunday. “I saw that and said, ‘Who is this kid?'”
Andujar, who’s ranked No. 5 on the Yankees’ top prospects list (No. 4 among all third basemen, per MLB Pipeline) has been opening up eyes once again this spring. In just 19 at-bats (seven games), the 23-year-old has hit four home runs and two doubles for eight RBI, and he’s yet to commit an error on the field.
“This kid’s got all the right tools and mindset,” Frazier told the Post. “He worked his butt off. And he’s got that swing. It’s attack-mode all the time and I love everything about that. I hope if he does get that job, he does it well because the sky’s the limit for him.”
Aaron Boone has also been impressed with Andujar, who hit .315 with a career-high 16 home runs, 36 doubles, and 82 RBI in 480 minor league at-bats last season.
“I think he can really hit. I think he’s wanting to show that,” Boone told Newsday last week. “I think hunger’s a good thing, I think competition is a good thing… I think we’re seeing a young, talented player that’s eager to prove himself and show that he belongs and I think he’s really confident in his ability, and for good reason.”
While the Yankees’ acquisition of infielder Brandon Drury created necessary competition at third base, Andujar’s flawless start in Florida has turned heads, and by Opening Day, he could be penciled in as Frazier’s successor. According to the Post, Frazier also believes the position battle can be a positive thing for a younger player, like Andujar.
“In the big leagues it’s an atmosphere you’re not used to and it can take a while,” Frazier said. “He’s a young kid that’s gonna be good, but with the Yankees, it’s different. I came up with the Reds, where you can fly under the radar a little bit. You can’t do that with the Yankees, and he probably doesn’t totally understand that. That can help, since he might not put too much pressure on himself, but it’s a tough situation for anyone to walk into.”
The Yankees and Mets will meet for the first time this spring on Wednesday at First Data Field in Port St. Lucie.