Scouting Report: 3B/1B, Drew Bridges

The Yankees selected third baseman Drew Bridges in the 20th round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of Carthage High School in Missouri. Signed for an over-slot bonus, while he hasn't exactly put up numbers just yet in his brief career, the teenage slugger offers one of the higher ceilings in the entire farm system.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Drew Bridges
Position: Third Base/First Base
DOB: February 3, 1995
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 245
Bats: Left
Throws: Right

He hit just .153 in his 22-game trial with the Gulf Coast League Yankees in his debut season in 2013 but seemed poised to break out in a big way in his first full season last year after becoming one of the real standouts in Extended Spring Training. However, once the short-season leagues opened up and he was sent back to the Gulf Coast League, the progress never really materialized in numbers as he hit just .222 with 65 strikeouts in 52 games.

"It could have went a lot better," Bridges said of his 2014 campaign. "I started off not too hot. I did pretty well during [Extended] Spring Training I feel and then the [Gulf Coast League] season started and my swing was off.

"I had a hard time getting back into it. About halfway through the season I started getting back into it and I felt like towards the end of the season [that] I ended real well. I left myself in a good position for this year coming up I think."

To the surprise of many, Bridges, who was absolutely raking in Extended Spring Training, hit just .183 in his first 29 Gulf Coast League games last year. Perhaps a little too patient in his approach to begin the season, he turned things around in the second half, hitting a more respectable .275 with thirteen extra-base hits in 23 games and posting an .887 OPS.

"I would say the problem was earlier in the count I was looking for one specific pitch and as the count got later I stayed with that approach looking for one pitch instead of broadening up a little bit more," he said. "I'd say that was my biggest problem, looking for one specific pitch in the at-bat to hit a double, a triple, or a home run instead of broadening it up as I got more strikes on me."

In basic terms, earlier in the season he was trying to muscle up a bit too much in the name of utilizing some of his special power. He got away from being a hit-first batter, employing more of an upper-cut swing and it had the exact opposite desired results.

"I was dipping a little bit more," he continued, "getting under the pitch trying to hit the ball a long way instead of staying with the right swing that does that for me."

It was also his first full season too and like most young teenage prospects he had to experience first-hand what the daily grind is like playing professional baseball. And what he quickly found out was he might not have been fully prepared to handle the demands.

"A lot of it I would say is endurance," he said of the biggest lesson he learned in 2014. "I came into Spring Training last year -- I didn't come in bad shape but I didn't come in the best shape I possibly could.

"I would say that's the big thing that I'm turning around this year, I've worked a lot more on my body, being more agile, being able to move faster. I think I'll be able to last longer this [coming] year.

"I feel like last season I hit a little point where I got tired and out of shape, more than I should have been. Body-wise is one of the biggest things I took out of last season."

And also like most young players who are essentially beginning their professional careers, Bridges had never experienced failure before. It takes time to come to grips that the days of hitting .400 and .500 like they once did in high school are now over.

"Another thing is it's such a mental game," he now realized. "I got down on myself during the season and thought 'I just got to hit the ball', and I think this year mentally I'll be stronger."

Learning the nuances of hitting and dealing with the trials and tribulations of that was just one lesson. The other is on the defensive side of the ball. A massive physical specimen, one who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 245 pounds, Bridges had to work hard to further improve his defensive game at third base.

"I feel like during the season I got a whole lot better," he said of third base. "I learned more about the position. I was able to move my feet better towards the end of the season but I was not in the best shape like I said so I couldn't perform to my best. I've worked on that a whole lot this offseason too so I feel like third base is going to progress a whole lot better for me this year too."

As large as he is it remains to be seen whether or not he will simply out-grow the position at some point. But for the time being Bridges is doing everything he can to stick at the position as long as he can.

"Personally my goal is to stick at third base my whole career or at least as long as I possibly can," he emphasized. "I don't ever want to give up third base because I feel like when I do that I'm going to start losing more athleticism and it's going to slow me down I feel like. That's my personal feeling on it."

A year and half into his development and still just a teenager [he turns 20 in February], Bridges has quickly learned the importance of keeping up on his body, not only in regards to his defensive game but his offensive game as well. And while the 2014 season didn't go as well as he had planned from a numbers standpoint, he says everything he went through was truly needed for his long-term development.

"For the stuff I got out of it I feel like it was a good year for me," he said. "I feel like I had to go through a full year of kind of struggles because that's what is going to help me get better. As far as what I wanted to see from it [though], I didn't like it. I saw some improvements but I'm a whole lot better than I showed."

He's not the only one who thinks he can be better either. Whether it is scouts or coaches, most feel there is some considerable ceiling to his game. In fact, often there are some Greg Bird-like comparisons offensively. And like Bird who struggled initially in his first year and a half, Bridges feels he's ready to take his game to the next level soon.

"I've always hit. I'm not whatever I was, a .220 hitter. I'll hit more; hit more doubles, home runs, my power numbers I feel like will go up more.

"I'd really like to put myself in a good position to start off in Charleston [in 2015] hopefully, if not Staten Island. I want to put myself in a good position to bump my status as far as prospect rating. I feel like personally I'll have more power numbers, my average is going to be better, I'm going to improve a whole lot more at third base, all of that stuff.

"I'm looking forward to the season. I'm able to move better than I was. I feel like I'm faster, stronger, all of that. I'm extremely excited. I'm ready to get down there and show people what I can actually do," he concluded.














2014 GCL Yankees1 .222 189 15 5 29 31 1 29 65 .329 .402
2013 GCL Yankees2 .153 72 1 1 9 9 1 11 24 .271 .236

Batting and Power. Built like a true slugger, Bridges already shows long-term plus power potential and it isn't just to the pull-side, it's to all fields. And because he can launch bombs out of any part of the field it allows him to better use the whole field, and that makes him more than just a pure slugger; he can hit too. He shows advanced patience at the plate and a real willingness to take his walks. While that combination should allow him to be a higher on-base hitter as he continues to develop, he is going to have to learn to be a little more aggressive earlier in counts to drive the better pitches because he has shown a propensity to expand his strike zone with two strikes.

Base Running and Speed. Like most sluggers, Bridges has a minimal impact in the running game. He has decent speed for a guy his size right now but that will most likely cease as he gets bigger, stronger, and older, so while he might be a mild threat among sluggers for the time being his running impact long-term will most likely be non-existent.

Defense. Just as is the case with his speed, Bridges is actually pretty agile right now for a slugging type but he is still very young so frankly he should be. He shows okay range, average arm strength, and improving hands, enough to have the ceiling of an average everyday third baseman. It's going to take a very strong commitment to keep up on his body and mobility to reach that ceiling, however, given his larger size and there is very little room for error. The more realistic projection has him eventually out-growing the position and moving to first base where he could be adequate.

Projection. Defensively the hope is for him to stick at third for as long as possible but it seems more than likely that it's just a matter of time before he eventually settles in as first baseman or designated hitter type as he gets older. With superb plate patience and 'now' power to all fields as a left-handed slugger, offensively the comparisons to current Yankee farmhand Greg Bird are pretty close. The fact is though he isn't quite the same type of high average hitter but he does possess a bit more power, thanks to a thicker physique. While it is going to take some adjustments as he continues to develop and some things will need to break right, there is an Adam Dunn-like quality style-wise here given his size, power, and hitting ability, and like Dunn his impact in the game will mostly be relegated to the offensive side of the ball.

ETA. N/A. Bridges really needs to get into the long-season leagues before a realistic big league arrival time can be estimated. While it would not be surprising for him to break Spring Training camp in low-A Charleston this year, the smarter bet has him beginning the season in Extended Spring Training and moving on to either Pulaski or Staten Island, depending on what the Yankees get in the draft in June.

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