Bridges Coming Together

STATEN ISLAND, NY - Progress isn't always something that happens overnight nor is it always something that is easily noticed. Take Drew Bridges for example. His development hasn't spiked in a huge manner just yet but his progress has been slow and steady over the past couple of years, and his entire game is coming together better so far in Staten Island this season.

Drew Bridges, a 20-year old from a small town in Missouri, has smoothly adjusted to the living under the lights in a big city during the day, and playing baseball under the lights at night.

“It’s the late nights," Bridges said of the toughest adjustment so far. I’ve been down in Tampa playing in the Gulf Coast League and you’re done at 3:30 every day. But here- it’s just been a great change.”

In 2013, Bridges was the Yankee’s 20th round pick, right out of high school, and has spent the past two years in the Gulf Coast League. His Spring Training and Extended Spring Training numbers were impressive by all accounts, and he has continued to show promise during the start of the 2015 Staten Island season.

“Everything thing I did over Extended and normal spring training has really helped me out,” Bridges said. “I feel like I’ve gotten my process down of every day’s what-to-do. I think it’s helped a lot. I’m feeling better every day.”

He carried over his impressive Extended showing with a strong start to his Staten Island season. He hit .382 with two home runs and ten RBIs through his first eleven games, and his strong start didn't come as a surprise to his manager, Pat Osborn.

“He’s someone I’ve been counting on,” Osborn said. “He’s a good player and I figured he would get off to a good start and have a success here.”

The numbers overall thus far have been pretty impressive, including a .369 on-base percentage and 12 walks after his first 22 games of the season. He has always been able to work the count and stay at the plate a little longer though and now it's about finding the balance between aggressive and finding his pitch.

Adjusting to the level of pitching has been one of the biggest changes he’s had to adapt to in the New York Penn league. Bridges said he has been impressed with the control the pitchers have and their ability to place the ball in the strike zone, and now Bridges is focused on staying through the ball.

“I’m kind of pulling off,” Bridges said of his most recent struggles. ”I’m trying to pull everything so I really got to stick to my plan, stay through the ball, and see a good pitch out over the plate.”

Bridges is also working on hitting for power and improving his .400 slugging percentage. As a third baseman standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing 230 pounds, it’s something the competition expects, and the good news is his defensive come is coming together in 2015.

Although there were previous talks about moving Bridges across the diamond to first, he has improved his third base skills and said that he feels like he can stay there for the time being.

“Most notably he’s moving a lot better than he ever has. “ Osborn said of Bridges defensive game. ”He’s a big kid and he has really improved his agility, his first step quickness, and has to continue to because he’s going to get bigger and stronger- it’s just the type of build he has.”

Maintaining his fitness and continuing to work on his steps will be a big part of keeping him at third. However, not working young players like Bridges too hard so early in their careers’ is an important part of their development too and Bridges is learning to share his playing time.

“You try to give them as much off time as you can,” Osborn said, "mixing in different guys in different lineups. I’m keeping Bridges fresh so he can produce.”

And produce is exactly what he has done for the Staten Island Yankees in the early going. From the youngster living in a small town, to the Big Apple ball player he is three years later, Bridges has a lot to be satisfied with.

“I’ve come together real well.”

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