The six foot 3rd baseman from San Cristobal, Dominican Republic signed at the age of 16 and spent his entire age 17 season playing for the Gulf Coast Yankees as one of the leagues youngest players. Although the results weren't ideal, Andujar batted .232 with a .299 sluggling percentage, he showed plenty of promise for a 17-year-old kid in his first full professional season.
Andujar, now 18, came into Extended Spring Training this year looking like he was ready to make that next step after spending most of his offseason in the weight room getting stronger.
"I felt great," Andujar said through the help of a translator when asked about his offseason.
Unfortunately for Andujar, his time in Extended Spring Training was cut short after he suffered an ankle injury sliding awkwardly back to first base on a back-pick from the catcher. The injury occurred just two weeks into the Extended season. Andujar was obviously disappointed.
"All I wanted to do is play," Andujar said.
For the next couple months, Andujar spent all his time rehabilitating the ankle, making an instant impression on the coaching staff, particularly Gulf Coast Yankees hitting coach Edwar Gonzalez.
"He's a special guy," Gonzalez said. "He's extremely hard-working and charismatic. He has a hunger for the game."
Andujar's appetite and drive for the game paid off. After two months of rehab on his injured ankle, he was cleared to return to games in the GCL and looks to be completely healthy.
"I have no limitations," Andujar said of his previously injured ankle. "It feels great, like I never hurt it."
The Yankees have taken a cautious approach with the now 18-year-old prospect in his first four games of the season. Andujar started at designated hitter in his first game back and has yet to play a full game at the hot corner this season.
"I'm just excited to get back to where I can play a full nine innings," Andujar said.
Despite the slow start to his season because of his ankle ailment, Andujar has started his this year off strong in his second time through the GCL.
After hitting only one home run and nine doubles in 191 plate appearances in 2012, Andujar's sweet right-handed stroke has already produced a home run and three doubles in just 17 at-bats this season. Coach Gonzalez knows exactly why the young prospect has flashed some new found power.
"He's recognizing breaking pitches much better," Gonzalez said. "When he's gotten a fastball [so far this season], he hasn't missed it."
Andujar has his on theory on his early success in the 2013 season.
"I just have a better knowledge of the game," Andujar said. "Mentally, I've been able to mature."
Andujar also vows that his defense is better this season after making 14 errors in 50 games last season and so far he's come through—albeit in a small sample size. Six chances, zero errors.
Andujar has all the tools in the world, now it's just a matter of making up for lost time.
"We just want him to be healthy," Gonzalez said. "He just needs at-bats and everything else will follow."
Gonzalez knows that if Andujar can continue his progress, the Yankees have something very special on their hands.
"The way he understands the game at a very young age tells you a lot about how bright his future is going to be," Gonzalez said. "He can be an everyday 3rd baseman for us if he keeps developing."
Andujar Working His Way Back
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