At 19 years old Brandon Wagner is one of the younger players on the 2015 Staten Island Yankees. Born on August 24, 1995 he is a full 2 years younger than the majority of his teammates, many of whom are over the age of 21. That however has not stopped the young infielder from making an impression on the coaches and teammates in his first professional season.
“I made a comment to him that he puts together some of the best at bats on this team,” said Staten Island manager Pat Osborn, “for a 19-year old kid that is pretty impressive.”
It is hard not to see when you watch Wagner at the plate, routinely he will work the count to try to find the pitch he wants to hit or draws a walk. The downfall of that approach is that he strikes out a bit with 38 in 125 at bats while also leading the team in walks with 24.
“I am a patient hitter,” Brandon told us, “I like to work the count. I like to see some pitches and look for stuff away and in the middle of the plate and look for something to drive.”
While Wagner got off to a bit of a slow start, hitting just .133 in June and .241 but has turned that around here in August, hitting .317 with 13 hits, 5 doubles, a triple and 2 homeruns over 41 at bats for the month.
While the patient approach is a plus for his age there are times when he might not be aggressive enough and letting balls past that he could drive for a base hit.
“He is going to need at some point to be a little more aggressive. He has such a good eye and is comfortable hitting with 2 strikes that he takes a lot of pitches that he could drive,” said Pat Osborn, “so the more at bats he gets and the more he learns himself, the strike zone and you will see a kid that will get more aggressive early in the count and let that power he has play. You see it glimpses here and there, when this kid really starts figuring out how to catch the ball further out front and offer at pitches earlier in the count you will see him take off.”
Offensively there is no question that Brandon Wagner is among the top batters on the team, working the count and driving the ball. The question most ask is where he is going to play defense. So far this season Wagner has saw time at 3 infield positions and some scouts feel he might one day end up in a corner outfield spot.
“I been really working on my defense. I have been trying to find a spot,” Brandon said to us. “I am probably more comfortable at second and third. I feel more comfortable at third right now.” The Yankees have been playing him mostly at second base, with the hope he could learn the position and become a regular there. The position is still relatively new for him as has been playing for just the last two years.
“To me he looks more comfortable at third,” Osborn told us, “I think that is his national position. He has improved at second base since day one, he is better defender there than when we showed up. I like what I see from this kid.”
No matter what Staten Island manager Pat Osborn had nothing but praise for how he plays the game and his work ethic. “He has the type of personality where he is the same all the time, never gets too high or too low. Takes the game very serious, works hard and fits in.”
Coming from a junior college program there is a lot to adjust to for Wagner. “The biggest thing for me is the pitching and the speed of the game. Everything is faster and it is going to take some time to adjust.” But it was not just the play on the field that he had to adjust to it was the environment. “In junior college you probably got 5 fans at the games then coming here and seeing 4,000 people is kind of nerve racking. I have to settle in, my nerves are starting to calm down.”
Brandon does have one advantage that helps him in that regard. Being from New Jersey his family is routinely at the games. “My family comes to every game and the off days I get to drive home. It is fun to have some support at the games.” For him thought it appears that the adjustment period might be over and he is settling in.