For Judge It's All About Approach

TAMPA, FL - It's easy to look at Aaron Judge's 6-foot-7, 270 pound frame and dream about his long-term power potential. Folks can get doubly excited when he uncorks a laser beam throw from deep in right field too. However, for Judge he says his entire game begins and ends with constantly tweaking his approach at the plate and that it's an aspect of his game that will never change.

To say that Aaron Judge's professional debut season last year [a point still lost on many] was a ringing success would be quite the understatement after he posted a combined .308 average with 24 doubles, 17 home runs, 89 walks, and a .905 OPS between low-A Charleston and high-A Tampa in 2014.

"It was good," Judge said of his debut season. "I had a lot of stuff I wanted to work on in the season and I felt like I went out and accomplished that. My teams all had decent years so it was good."

As previously mentioned, it was Judge's debut season after the 2013 first round pick was unable to play that year with a mild quad injury. A naturally confident guy, while his success last year didn't necessarily come as a surprise to him he does admit that he didn't have a whole of expectations entering last season either.

"I didn't really set any expectations for myself. I just wanted to go out there and win. That was the main goal, win and get better everyday. I felt like we did that for the most part."

It's that rather simplistic overall philosophy that arguably allows him to have so much success too. He doesn't get bogged down with trying to do too much. Despite having plus power he isn't trying to force the issue and rather has a more basic goal of staying within himself.

"My approach, that was the biggest thing I wanted to work on [last year], getting the right pitch and just driving it," he said. "It's a constant [thing].

"The game is always changing. The pitchers are always making adjustments so I have to make an adjustment. I just keep working on my approach and getting the right pitch, that's the biggest thing."

Despite his mammoth frame he believes he showed everyone last season that he has the approach of a pure hitter and not a mere slugger.

"At a young age, for me playing baseball it was always about getting on base and driving guys in," he flatly said. "Those are the two main things I try to do, get on base for the guy behind me or if there's a guy on base I try to drive him in. Anyway I can do that during the course of the game I'm going to try to do it."

He certainly showed that professional approach over in big league camp this Spring Training.

"It was fun, I had a blast," he said with a huge smile. "The guys were good. There's just so many quality veterans over there that I got to go pick their brain about playing the outfield.

"I got to talk to Carlos Beltran and Chris Young, I talked to Alex [Rodriguez] a lot about hitting and just what he tries to do at the plate. It was a lot of good information that I'm not only going to try to take into this spring but during the season too."

He hit just .238 in his 21 big league camp at-bats this spring but he still opened a lot of eyes with his professional demeanor and overall patient approach to hitting.

"I hope so. I hope I did. I just try to go out there and help the team win any way I can and that's all I was trying to do, and to get better."

Back down in minor league camp and getting prepared for his second full season coming up, even though Judge has had a ton of success in his brief career thus far he believes there is still a ton of improvement left in his entire game.

"I have to work on everything and I feel like everybody does," he said stoically. "Nobody's perfect so base running, hitting, outfield, everything, I need to work on everything.

"But like I said, my approach is probably the biggest thing. That's what really separates guys I think. Everybody gets here [to pro ball] because of their talent but it's the smart hitters and the smart pitchers that stay up there, the ones that are always making adjustments."

He continues to make his adjustments but as camp is getting closer to end this week he can't help but be excited for the 2015 season, especially hitting in what appears to shaping up as one of the better minor league lineups with the Trenton Thunder.

"Oh my gosh I can't wait. Just up and down one through nine there's nobody you want to face. Coming up in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded and two outs I want every guy up there.

"I don't think there's a weak spot in our lineup so it should be a lot of fun this year and I'm looking forward to it," he concluded.

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