Chris Gittens was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 12th round in 2014. The Texas-native played at Grayson County; his position is first-base and DH. He ended his 2017 on the DL with the High-A Tampa Yankees.
Gittens introduced himself to the Yankees’ organization starting with the GCL. He played 11 games and finished his rookie year with 35 at-bats. In those 35 at-bats, he totaled seven walks, 10 hits (four of them doubles), and struck out 10 times. It was good for a .286 average, .400 OBP, and .800 OPS.
In 2015 Gittens spent a majority of the year mashing in the GCL, this time with a larger sample size. Through 41 games and 124 at-bats, he posted a .363 average with nine doubles, eight home runs, 29 RBIs, and 17 walks. His .452 OBP and 1.097 OPS was a top stat-line on the team. Gittens did get some time in the FSL for the Tampa Yankees to end the season, but just 14 at-bats overall. He struggled with a .143 average in his short time there.
In 2016, Gittens showed his best assets in the SAL league for the Charleston RiverDogs. He finished the season with 21 home runs, 23 doubles, 56 walks, and 126 strikeouts. He also finished with a .359 OBP, .478 SLG %, and .837 OPS.
Gittens got off to a great start in 2017 with the High-A Tampa Yankees but would run into injury issues towards the end of the summer and the last weeks of the season. He’d end up with a .266 average, 12 doubles, 13 home runs, and 37 walks. The primary injury he encountered was a dislocated thumb, which kept him out long enough to see some rust in his return. Gittens was still a top-3 performer on the team throughout the season.
Gittens has some of the best raw power in the Yankees’ organization, and a decent eye to go with it. He can push the counts pretty well at times, and the next at-bat hit a ball where only a select few can. With most sluggers, strikeouts are an issue for him, but he fights counts more than what his walk numbers show, and it’s something he progressed throughout the season.
As for his fielding, he needs to cut down the errors, which he did through the last months of the season. His size can also be deceiving as he made some great glove plays last season, which didn’t necessarily look pretty, but he got them out.
Gittens’ main issue is he’s still on a long waiting list of first baseman and DH in the organization. Though it has cleared up some and there are still moves to be made involving some first baseman above him, he will need to turn heads if he wants to move up faster. He’ll most likely start the season in Tampa, but expect him to end in Double-A Trenton. Despite his injury-filled second half of the season, he isn’t ‘injury-prone,’ which is why he should make it to Trenton without much issue.