Brandon Drury may have impressed since coming to the New York Yankees from the Arizona Diamondbacks and already gained a major following. But hold the parade, folks!
We all know the famous bedtime story of how New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman fleeced the nation by acquiring Didi Gregorius from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team trade in December of 2014. This year, Cashman continues to take from the D-backs without ever giving up anything of substance.
That’s how the Yankees landed Brandon Drury, who found himself traded to the Yankees on Feb. 20, just a few weeks ago. He was welcomed right away and thrust into the infield competition, one that seemed to be locked up by rookies.
Well, Drury’s arrival shook things up a little. A third base position that was originally held by Miguel Andujar was taken right out from under him. A second base position that Aaron Boone declared could be taken by Gleyber Torres was now wide open.
Drury had the world at his fingertips and experience backing him up.
With Andujar’s demotion to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday afternoon, it became clear that Drury had won the starting third base position, after arriving less than a month ago.
As exciting as it is to have Drury on board and penciled into the starting lineup, as well as seeing his performance so far this spring, it’s not all roses. Sure, he’s done well so far but fans who are already dubbing him the next Didi Gregorius need to slow down.
He arrived in the Bronx in the same fashion as Gregorius (as well as from the same location) and they both represented young yet experienced talent. However, that’s where the similarities in their situations stopped.
Gregorius arrived as the primary candidate for the shortstop position, filling the impossible shoes of Derek Jeter, who retired after the 2014 season. He didn’t have anyone clamoring for his spot—essentially the spot was all his. Drury came in the midst of a competition, battling a few other young talents for a starting position.
Drury won over Andujar and with his .286 batting average this spring, he’ll find himself in the starting lineup come Opening Day. While he won this round, the battle is far from over. Just because Drury will command the spot for the first game doesn’t mean he’ll be starting for the last one for the season.
Right now, he’s excelling on the field. He’s been making incredible plays at third as well as the routine plays with a swagger that makes him so much fun to watch. However, one short slump or a few mistakes could cost him with Andujar coming in hot.
Andujar’s sentencing to Triple-A came as a surprise to some because of his mashing of the baseball this spring. But looking at the big picture, it was the right move. While his power and approach at the plate has impressed this spring (four home runs, 10 RBI in 14 games played), the 23-year-old still has a long way to go with his defense before he can become a regular in the big leagues.
Even though he’s not ready quite yet for Opening Day, Andujar will get a chance to work on and perfect his defense while continuing his hot hitting. That move to Triple-A doesn’t spell the end of Andujar’s run to the majors this season. Just like his demotion does not spell an automatic starting spot for Drury the entire season.
Drury has won the spot fair and square but it’s also his to lose just as quickly. Any sort of surge from Andujar could spell a disaster for Drury. And that’s very well possible. If Andujar keeps up his hot hitting and works on his defense, Drury could just as easily lose that spot.
So don’t freak out just yet about Drury. Sure, he’s doing great things in spring but that doesn’t propel him to stardom status just yet. The short-term battle may be over but the long-term battle is just beginning for Drury.
While Gregorius didn’t quite have a predecessor lurking in the wings, Brandon Drury does. Drury better watch his back because one major slip-up could give his spot right back to Andujar.