The top prospect in the New York Yankees farm system, Aaron Judge, may have made a key adjustment that could speed up his path to the show.
New York Yankees fans are patiently waiting for “Judgement Day” to arrive in the Bronx. For those who don’t know, that will be the day their top outfield prospect Aaron Judge plays his first game as a Yankee.
Although the blueprint is pointing at the 6’7″ monster to finish the year in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and become the starting right fielder once the 2017 season commences, Judge has mad a severe case to earn an earlier promotion.
Last year in Double-A, 275-pound outfielder showed promise as he had a slash-line of .284/.350/.516 with 12 home runs, and 44 RBI in 63 games, but couldn’t carry that over into a Triple-A call-up. Once he made it to Triple-A, as he hit a poor .224 with an on-base percentage of .308 and 74 strikeouts in 61 games.
In an attempt to turn around a disappointing campaign and prove that he could still become a prospect to emerge as a top performer in the pros, he changed his approach at the plate and boy did it pay off.
“In Trenton last year, he saw a lot of fastballs,” Railriders manager Al Pedrique told NJ Media. “But watching him in spring training and early this year, he’s starting to realise he can do something with breaking pitches. I think in the past, last year, he was shy, I would say. He wasn’t aggressive enough to attack those pitches. Now he knows he can get to those pitches, just let it travel a little bit, trust your hands and drive it the other way.”
That fix in order to drive the ball the opposite way starts with pitch recognition which not only has his numbers way up but the hype surrounding his major league potential, too.
In the month of June (13 games), Judge has maintained a .340/.483/.532 slash line with a shockingly epic OPS of 1.015 featuring eight runs batted in. Yes, his season’s strikeout percentage is up at 27% but he has walked 11 times compared to 10 strikeouts this month demonstrating the capability to be patient at the plate.
And yes, he can drive the ball the other way now but don’t let that fool you into thinking he can’t turn on a fastball that rides in on his hands.
“He has no issues when they throw him a fastball inside,” Pedrique also told NJ Media. “His hands are quick enough that he’s going to be able to drive the ball to the left-center gap all over the park. It’s a matter of time until he feels comfortable where he can do something with those pitches middle away and drive it the other way.”
For Judge, it’s all about getting the pitch he can drive. Chasing out of the zone and helping pitchers out was a primary cause of his high K% but now his patient strategy of going the other way has made him exactly what he looks like: scary.
In a major league at-bat, you’re hypothetically going to get maybe one pitch, maybe not even a single pitch in which you can drive. Judge has changed from chasing to waiting to make sure he doesn’t miss it.
Judge has always shown enormous power, but it hasn’t really rendered through Triple-A, until now. Hopefully for him, this can continue and we can pay witness to one of the most intriguing prospects the New York Yankees has to offer on the big stage.