To his credit, Miguel Andujar, the Yankees’ top third-base prospect, is beginning to be noticed by more and more observers. He is coming off an excellent effort in the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .284 (19-for-67) in 19 games, committing just three errors.
The native of San Cristobal, D.R.’s selection to the AFL All-Prospects team, capped off a 2016 campaign in which he batted .273 (140-for-512) with 26 doubles, four triples, 12 home runs, and 83 RBIs in 130 games between Class-A Advanced Tampa and Double-A Trenton.
“Andujar had an excellent all-around season,” said a National League East scout. “He’s progressing, but there are still parts of his game he needs to work on.”
We agree with that scout’s opinion, which is typical of a player with just 72 games of Double-A experience. There are some who feel he has “put Chase Headley on notice,” and could reach the majors sometime in 2017. Not so fast, my friends.
Andujar does have soft hands, a good arm and potential power among his attributes, but he has not quite put it all together yet. He actually can steal a base here and there, and charges balls well.
“My goal is to improve each time I go out there,” said Andujar during his time in Trenton in 2016. “I know I have some things I have to work on.
“This (Double-A) is a new level, and I know there will be adjustments.”
For instance, while Andujar hit ten homers in 58 games at Tampa, he only hit a pair out in 72 at Trenton. Double-A pitchers were a bit tougher than those at lower levels. In the field, while he had seven errors and was part of 10 double plays at Tampa, he had 15 at Trenton and was part of just two double plays.
A big deal? Not at all. He is a young player, just short of 22, who is learning and adjusting to the speed of the game as he advances. Is he ready for Triple-A? We think not at the start of the 2017 season, If all goes well in April, May, and June in the Garden State, we can see him reaching Scranton at mid-season.
His AFL performance was impressive because he seemed to tire toward the end of the Eastern League season and the ensuing playoffs, in which Trenton reached the EL Championship Series before falling to the Akron Rubber Ducks, Cleveland’s Double-A club.
To keep improving, Andujar must be more consistent defensively. Many of his errors in Trenton came on throws that went awry. The game will continue getting faster and faster as he advances. In the majors, defensive consistency is a must. Andujar is not there yet.
At the plate, he also needs a bit more consistency and plate control, which will undoubtedly come in time. He has the potential to hit 15 homers annually in the majors.
Andujar certainly can earn a spot in the Yankees infield by 2018. He has all the raw skills, an array of abilities that simply need to fall into place. Right now, he is a typical Double-A guy on the way up. Part of his game is at the major-league level. Part needs work.
Which is why 2017 is a crucial season for him.