Aaron Judge has been tearing it up with Triple-A Scranton, but his inevitable call to the bigs may take longer than the New York Yankees would prefer.
The hype involving New York Yankees No. 2 prospect Aaron Judge is at a paramount. He is generally viewed as a force of the future in the middle of the lineup and has even been honored with comparisons to Giancarlo Stanton.
There is no denying the raw power the 24-year-old possesses. It is noted that his ability to drive the ball to the opposite field is exceptional, making him a perfect fit for Yankee Stadium.
Following a rough start to his 2016 Triple-A campaign that put his future in question, he has returned to prominence amidst a brilliant power stretch. Over his last 10 games, the 2013 first-round pick is batting .353 with five homers and nine runs batted in. Highlighting the stretch was a tremendous display three nights ago against Toledo in which he went 4-5 with two round-trippers.
The hope is that Judge can be manning the right field position in the Bronx for years to come, and his recent upturn towards domination of the Triple-A level shows that he is quite ready face off against big league arms.
Although the Yankees truly believe they have a future star waiting in Scranton, they simply do not have room for him on the current big league roster. They would love to give him the shot he deserves right away, but that will not realistically occur until 2017.
Judge is a naturally groomed outfielder, and he is the last person the organization wants to force a drastic change in position on.
Currently, the Yankees have three everyday outfielders who are showing no signs of going anywhere. Jacoby Ellsbury has been as productive as they come, Carlos Beltran is having an amazing walk year, and Brett Gardner’s work ethic and .364 clip over his last 15 games should keep him in pinstripes.
With that said, anywhere Judge would play in the outfield, there is a formidable major leaguer occupying the position.
The key with Beltran is “walk year”. If he was not having an unexpectedly amazing year for the Yanks, they would not hesitate to call up a potential phenom, bench the 39-year-old, and deal with the remaining months of his contract.
However, Beltran has been the outright best hitter on the team and is one of the sole reasons they are still in the mix approaching July.
Speaking of July, the organization thought so highly of their prospect that they forfeited a chance to acquire a premier arm like David Price at last year’s deadline. While they were getting sensational production all around and might have made a run at a championship with another arm, they wanted to preserve their future by holding on to a projected integral piece.
One would assume they want to see what he has to offer if his value is truly set at that high of a bar.
Moving it over to another potential place at designated hitter, Alex Rodriguez is still not performing up to par but sheer track record will keep him in his spot. In fact, DH would be the ideal spot for Judge to break in, but it is simply not in the realm of possibility at the moment.
So while he may be knocking on the door, it is not the right time to experiment with an exciting chip when the team has proven and productive players on the roster.
Injuries are frequent in baseball, particularly with an aging team like New York, and could be a potential path to the show, but the franchise is desperate not to mess this one up. A detrimental scenario would be an injury paving way for Judge, production in the bigs ensuing, and then an immediate demotion once a DL stint is completed for a said player.
Instability is certainly a disinterest of the franchise when it comes to a prized possession.
2017 provides an easy equation for the youngster. He performs at least relatively well in spring training and becomes the starting right fielder on opening day.
The vacancy will not be filled in the offseason with the knowledge that he is ready to provide a spark to the middle of the order.
It is easy to get a bit too excited when thinking of a star in the making and just as easy to create unlikely scenarios that will have him in the bigs this season. So take a step back, know that he is not going anywhere, and be ready for the so-called “Judgement Day” when the Yankees break camp next year.