Miguel Andujar: Signed as the Yankees' top International free agent signing back in 2011, this Dominican native has been considered one of the highest ceiling third base prospects in the organization ever since and he's begun proving why over the past two years. He hit a robust .323 with 15 extra-base hits in just 133 Gulf Coast League at-bats in 2013 and, after struggling initially to playing night games for the first time last season, wound up hitting .319 in his last 64 games with the Charleston RiverDogs after he made the adjustment. The recently turned 20-year old [he turned 20 on March 2nd] has his game not only tracking upward but upward in a big way.
Defensively he's arguably the best equipped third baseman in the entire farm system, showing nimble feet around the bag and plus arm strength. Offensively his has plus bat speed, advanced plate patience and solid pitch recognition, and average or better power potential that shows flashes of being so much more as he continues to fill out and get stronger. Throw in a real ability to make adjustments and great makeup, and there aren't a whole lot of weaknesses in his game. He has immense Adrian Beltre-like upside on both sides of the ball.
Dermis Garcia: Considered arguably the top International free agent in the 2015 amateur class, the Yankees inked this teenage Dominican native last summer for a reported $3.2 million and he already possesses one of the highest ceilings not only at the position but in the entire farm system. Blessed with plus-plus power potential to all fields, the former amateur shortstop also shows enough rudimentary tools to make a successful transition over to third base, including solid lateral quickness, soft hands, and plus arm strength.
Like Andujar, Garcia enters the professional ranks with the potential to be a two-way threat on both sides of the ball although there are some slight differences. Andujar's biggest question mark was how far will the power develop [a question still yet to be fully answered]. Garcia doesn't have that question mark at all. Rather his biggest question mark is if the bat will be consistent enough for the plus-plus power to be optimally tapped down the road. He shows the kind of requisite patience and advanced enough pitch recognition to be a high average hitter, but as is the case with all 17-year olds he will have a lot to prove going forward so there is some 'the jury is still out' in his game overall despite the ultra-high ceiling.
Eric Jagielo: Like Andujar and Garcia, this former first round pick in 2013 out of the University of Notre Dame has a sky-high offensive ceiling. His consistent opposite field approach helps disguise the fact that he has plus power potential to all fields, especially to the pull side where it has the chance to be quite prodigious. He employs plus bat speed, a very patient approach at the plate, and good pitch recognition. In fact, if anything he's arguably a little too patient at the plate, often times letting good pitches go by in the name of working the count. When he is aggressive earlier in counts, however, he can absolutely impact the baseball and he's proven to be a very good clutch hitter early in his career.
Defensively, however, the tools are more average than anything, most notably his arm strength. He has the foundational quickness and hands to man the position in a serviceable fashion long-term, but there is some more experience needed to fulfill that potential since he's only been playing the position for the better part of three years. Most scouts envision him moving either to first base or left field down the road, but the good news is even if he had to move to one of those spots he still has the offensive potential be a standout at those positions too.
Closest to the Majors
Rob Segedin: The third round pick in 2010 is slowing becoming the Yankee version of the 'Bionic Man'. He missed most of the 2013 season with two hip surgeries and once he returned last year he found out he needed glasses to help him see better at night. The end result has been much better range in the field, a little more torque in his swing, and an ability to pick up the spin of the baseball better. Considering he already had some of the best plate discipline in the entire farm system even before the health issues arose, he now has some ceiling to him despite being 26 years old. He has spent parts of the last three seasons in Double-A and got some Triple-A experience last year, and for now is the first one on the minor league depth chart at third base should the need arise.
Dante Bichette Jr.: The 2011 first round pick was in dire need of a breakout season last year after hitting a combined .232 the previous two years at low-A Charleston and he responded very well, hitting a combined .264 with ten home runs and a career-high 30 doubles and 56 walks between high-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton.
|HOW LONG CAN HE STICK?: Bridges will have to keep up on his quickness to keep playing third. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
Drew Bridges: A 20th round pick out of high school in 2013, physically Bridges is a beast. Standing 6-foot-4 and weighing 245 pounds already, the recently turned 20-year old [he turned 20 in February] is a slugger in every sense of the term. In fact, offensively he compares favorably to Greg Bird even though the lower minor league level numbers might not support it yet. There are not many concerns about his long-term offensive game, however. Defensively though, especially given his size, the question remains if he will be able to retain enough lateral quickness to remain an option at the hot corner. He will stick there until he shows he can't and until that time his bat is certainly capable of not only being productive there but even potentially special.
Need to Make Their Move
Matt Duran: The 2011 fourth round pick once had one of the higher ceilings among the third base prospects, showing a nice blend of average or better hitting potential, power potential and defensive abilities. However, he has played a grand total of six official minor league games the past two years while dealing with an array of injuries, including a stress reaction in his foot and elbow, the latter of which required surgery that is being treated like Tommy John in his rehab process. Throw in the fact he's going to turn 22 years old in May and has yet to play in the long-season leagues, he is going to have to start producing almost immediately upon his return and begin to make up for lost time.
The Jury is Still Out
Nelson Gomez: Like Garcia, Gomez was widely considered one of the top International free agents on the amateur market last year before ultimately signing with the Yankees for a reported $2.25 million. And like Garcia, the Dominican native has an absolute cannon for an arm, good hands, and plus power to all fields. A bit thicker, however, in the middle section has some scouts questioning if an already big kid who only projects to get bigger will have the kind of range needed to stick at the position long-term. The jury is still out on his conditioning and/or if he will simply out-grow third base even though offensively he projects to have the kind of impact bat that could stick.
Ty McFarland: Last year's tenth round pick out of James Madison University immediately moved to second base despite playing third base in college [he played some third base in Staten Island too last season]. A plus hitter with moderate power potential offensively, the Yankees are hoping McFarland continues to show the kind of defensive progress he made in his debut season last year. Standing 6-foot-3 he physically looks more like a third baseman than a middle infielder and third base is absolutely a fall-back option for him should the second base experiment not work. If he had to move back to the hot corner, however, while he would be more than adequate defensively there and everybody knows the bat would remain consistent, the question would then follow whether or not the power would suffice there and that's an aspect of his game that still needs to be determined.