Aaron Judge, to anyone who sees him, certainly passes the eye test. At 6-foot-7, 275 pounds, the New York Yankees top prospect has impressive physical tools.
He also, for a player his size, has a swing that does not really have a lot of holes on it. Defensively, with a plus-arm and good speed for a player his size, scouts across the board agree he is the prototype future big-league right fielder.
“I pay no attention to all that hype,’’ said Judge, a native of Linden, Calif., who played collegiately at Fresno State before being taken by the Yankees as the 32nd pick in the first round of the 2013 draft.
“I know there are areas I need to work on and I do that everyday.
Judge will play the 2016 at age 24, which he will turn next April 26. Defensively, his game is ready, Offensively, even with his plus-plus power, there is work to do as far as hitting the off-speed stuff he saw more and more at Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2015.
After batting .308 (144-for-467) at Class-A stops Charleston and Tampa in 2014, hitting 24 doubles, 17 home runs and driving in 78 runs, he began 2015 at Double-A Trenton after making quite an impression in Spring Training.
An opening-night blast that traveled almost 475 feet brought the Thunder an extra-inning victory and a warning to Eastern League pitchers not to throw fastballs.
“That pitch was just where I like it,’’ Judge said at the time. “You don’t see too many like that. You have to take advantage.’’
Judge went on to bat .284 (71-for-250) in 63 games with the Thunder, hitting 12 homers and driving in 44 runs. He missed a few games with leg pain, but otherwise had no physical issues. He also had 16 doubles and three triples before a mid-seas0n promotion to Triple-A Trenton.
The first questions arose about his game in Scranton, mainly because his average dropped to .224 (51-for-228) in 61 games. He hit eight homers and drove in 28 runs. But the numbers, as usual, are not the whole story here.
For the season, he hit .255 (122-for-478) in 124 games with 20 homers, 26 doubles and 72 RBIs. What he must cut down on are strikeouts, as he had 144 vs. only 53 walks.
As expected, Judge was dealt a lot of off-speed offerings from pitchers, many of whom with big-league experience, challenged him with. Judge knew what was coming and how to adjust. He is an intelligent player.
“I expected a lot of that, especially after the way I hit fastballs when I first got to Trenton,’’ said Judge. “Naturally, since the pitchers adjusted, I have to adjust.
“What I have to do is improve my timing, and handle the off-speed pitches. I’m recognizing them. I just have to get the bat to them a bit quicker, react a bit quicker.’’
All this makes total sense. Judge certainly did not fail in the International League, but he did get an education. Once he gets the bat on off-speed deliveries a bit quicker, as he said, he will be a finished product.
Expect that in 2017.