Mark LoMoglio

Here's a scouting report on Gulf Coast League Yankees first baseman Chris Gittens.

The Yankees selected first baseman Chris Gittens in the 12th round of the 2014 MLB Draft out of Grayson County Junior College in Texas. A foot injury led to a shortened debut season a year ago but he broke out in a big way in 2015 and his elite power potential makes him one of the more intriguing long-term prospects in the farm system.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Chris Gittens
Position: First Base
DOB:  February 9, 1994
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 250
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Batting and Power. Gittens' game begins and ends with his plus power potential to all fields.  Standing 6-foot-4 and a somewhat svelte and athletic 250 pounds, he has excellent bat speed and is able to generate special torque when fully extending his arms.  That means his power isn't just relegated to the pull-side; he can hit them out of any part of any ball park.  He also shows solid plate discipline, patience, and pitch recognition, which combined with his bat speed gives him the necessary components in place to potentially be a good hitter for average too.  While those are all big positives he does have some swing mechanics that have been and most likely will continue to be focal points in his development. He employs a leg-kick that requires constant work and precise timing.  He has learned to be shorter and more compact in his swing early on in his career, and when he remains calm and focused on using the whole field and hitting line-drives he can be very consistent.  He's a slugger in every sense of the term but one who is still learning to be more of a hit-first kind of player.

Base Running and Speed. Not only built like a slugger but perhaps one of the thicker ones, Gittens isn't a threat on the base paths at all.  He is pretty nimble and athletic for a guy his size though so while he won't be swiping many bases [he can swipe a couple here and there] he shouldn't be a liability as a station to station runner either.

Defense. Built much like current big leaguer Miguel Cabrera, Gittens can actually get around for a larger-framed guy.  He shows adequate range and soft hands, and is pretty adept at the short-hop scoops too.  All of it spells at least average defensive potential at first base, including solid arm strength.  While not exactly new to the position [he's been playing mostly first base since his freshman year of high school] he does have to learn the nuances of how to position himself better pre-pitch and where to make plays on balls put in play at the professional level but those are aspects of his game that should come with experience.  The trick for him will be to continue to keep up on his conditioning so his solid now defensive abilities don't erode as he gets older.

Projection. Gittens' meal ticket is his plus power potential and slugging propensity, plain and simple.  He has the kind of rare power potential that could make him a real impact threat in the heart of a big league lineup someday but it will also take some doing to get to that point too.  While he's shown he can be nimble and agile for a thicker slugger type right now, keeping up on his conditioning will be of the utmost importance because he has the type of frame that could easily balloon out of control if he's not diligent in his conditioning work.  That isn't just important in terms of his defensive work at first base to keep him from becoming a mere designated hitter type long-term but it is also important hitting-wise as well.  Maintaining or even improving his athleticism will be key so he can maintain his load and shorten his swing, and be more of a hit-first batter who has power than a power hitter trying to hit.  The upside is enormous here as both a hitter and a slugger but it doesn't come without its various caveats.  The good news is Gittens has a solid work ethic and excellent mental makeup, and he's shown a real coachable trait as well.

ETA. N/A. Aside from a few games the soon to be 22-year old hasn't had much experience outside of the rookie leagues yet and there's still some questions that need to be answered before a more educated big league arrival time can be estimated; in what kind of shape will he report to camp?  And will the swing stay as short as it was in 2015?  Those questions should be answered relatively quickly when he most likely opens up the 2016 campaign as the starting first baseman for the low-A Charleston RiverDogs.

Year Team AVG AB 2B HR RBI R BB SO SB OBP SLG OPS
2015 Tampa .143 14 0 0 1 0 1 3 0 .200 .143 .343
2015 GCL Yankees .363 124 9 8 29 25 17 33 2 .452 .645 1.097
2014 GCL Yankees .286 35 4 0 5 6 7 10 0 .400 .400 .800

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