Opinion

Miguel Andujar’s big opportunity

 

Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 55 | Run: 45 | Arm: 70 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55

In 2017, Miguel Andujar went from under the radar prospect to legitimate blue chipper. MLB Pipeline now ranks him as the no. 3 third base prospect in all of baseball. After the 2015 season, the Yankees exposed him to the rule 5 draft, and all 30 teams passed over him. Andujar has always had loud tools, so what changed?

Ever since the Yankees signed him out of the Dominican in 2011 as a 16 year old, the scouting report on him has been clear: fantastic arm with a good hit tool, and some decent pop. He never really translated those loud tools into game action throughout the Minors. Last year, however, he finally put those tools to use in the upper levels of the Minors and a brief stint with the MLB club. He hit .318/.364/.503 (135 wRC+), 16 HR, 5.7 BB%, 13.4 K% (530 PA), catapulting himself into the Yankees’ future plans.

This brings us to 2018. The future is now.  Andujar started the season in Triple-A, after the Yankees decided to use Brandon Drury as their primary third baseman. Drury performed very well before being sidelined with extreme migraines and blurred vision. Apparently this has been going on for years with Drury, so let’s hope he can figure out the root of that problem and get back on the field as soon as possible. In the meantime, this is Andujar’s opportunity to seize. The Yankees seem to be willing to give the young gun a shot, and it will be up to him to prove he is ready for The Show on both sides of the ball.

His offensive profile reminds me a lot of Didi Gregorius.  Despite a violent swing, Andujar is a contact first hitter, carrying low strikeout total across all levels of the Minors. His power started to translate itself into game situations last year, and scouts agree that there may be more power to come, most giving him a 55 grade on the 20-80 scouting scale. He isn’t going to walk a ton, but a decent average with some home run totals into the twenties throughout his career seems to be a good bet.

Bernie Pleskoff of fanragsports had this to say: “His power upside is probably the best of several tools Andujar brings to his game. Using his strong wrists and forearms, his bat speed is well above average. Once he continues to gain additional experience hitting quality breaking balls, he projects to add some true power to the Yankees lineup.”

Defensively, Andujar is more of a work in progress.  Currently, I would describe him as “playable” at third, and nothing more.  He clearly has a cannon for an arm (a consensus 70-grade tool), but his footwork in the infield just doesn’t seem like it’s natural to him just yet.  I am not concerned though.  By all accounts, the tools and work ethic are there.  Major League coaching and more reps should help, so maybe that’s all the youngster needs.  “Tremendous work-ethic, and tools to be as good as he wants to be.” Yankees VP of baseball operations Tim Naehring said. “We just keep working on the lower half (defensively): start at the feet and move it up. Proper angles. Working through the baseball, good mechanically techniques for securing the baseball and turning it into an out. He’s a young kid. The arrow’s pointing up.”

Most outlets have Andujar as a 55-grade type of prospect, which is “above average”.  Fangraphs, slapped a 60 overall grade on him, and ranked him as the 14th best prospect in baseball, only 2 notches behind the more highly touted Gleyber Torres.  Only a few prospects in the game have higher overall grades, and they are Acuna, Guerrero, Jr., and some guy named Ohtani.  Pretty high praise.

Andujar clearly is a high class talent, but unfortunately we haven’t seen the talent shine through yet in the Majors.  The Yankees think very highly of Andujar; he was off limits entirely in the Gerrit Cole trade talks.  He seems to be trying to do too much at the plate right now, swinging at everything and trying to “prove” that he belongs.  If I had a chance to talk to Miguel, I would say, “relax kid.  You belong here.  Just make contact and good things will happen.”  Let’s hope he takes that approach moving forward.

 

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