Gittens was drafted by the Yankees in the 12th round of the 2014 First-Year-Player Draft. He then went to Tampa to begin his professional career at the Yankees complex. He made eleven appearances in the Gulf Coast League in 2014 with the Yankees with a batting average of .286n--- a solid start to his professional career. In 2015, he came even back stronger, hitting 363 with 18 extra-base hits [including eight home runs] in just 41 Gulf Coast League games.
“I thought it went well last season," Gittens said. "I was seeing the ball well and my defense improved a lot and overall just had a great year. My footwork needs some [more] work at first base. That is something that I learned I need to work on for this season. I need to be more agile."
Happy with the work he put in during the offseason, Gittens, despite his game seemingly on the upswing, got off to a slow start after breaking camp with the low-A Charleston RiverDogs. He hit just .203 with one home runs through his first 19 games, although he did walk 14 times along the way.
“He makes mistakes, just like everyone does," Dorante said. "He just needs to learn when to be aggressive and when not to be aggressive, and bring more consistency to his game.
"He started a little slow. Obviously being a first year here, he needs to get acclimated a little bit; knowing when it is time to be aggressive and when it is time not to be. But for the most part it has been good and the work he’s done with 'Colby' [Charleston hitting coach Greg Colbrunn] is good. Basically he needs to be more aggressive at the plate with fastballs and take advantage of that power.”
Gittens has done that lately too and the results have proven it. He's hit a more robust .311 over his last 18 games and clubbed four more home runs.
“I think when he first got here, pretty much with the whole team, everyone is out there trying to do too much, and a lot of them it’s their first year full season A-ball and just getting into everything, and now they are starting to settle down and putting together good at-bats,” Colbrunn said.
Settling down and getting more acclimated for Gittens, however, included getting more accustomed to playing night games, especially since he had a grand total of just five long-season league games to his credit prior to this season, and that too has taken some time.
Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 "It was slow getting used to playing night games compared to the GCL playing during the day, but now I feel like I'm getting in the groove,” Gittens said.
Also helping him get back into a groove has been going back to his whole-field approach too.
“He hits to all fields," Dorante said. "We see a lot of guys who pull to the opposite sides at bat over to the right, more than the left field, but he’s capable of pulling the ball when it’s the right time.”
At 6-foot-4-inches tall, Chris is a big guy with a big physical frame. He naturally produces raw and strong power from the right side of the plate. He has what it takes to use the whole field and hit solidly all year.
During the offseason he really worked on trying to improve his athleticism and well being.
“My work ethic helped me prepare for this season. I was working out and getting stronger and eating well. I lost 15-20 pounds in the offseason, which helped me in the long run I think,” Gittens stated.
His coaches did not really get the chance to see him at Spring Training this year but that didn’t stop them from realizing his potential. At 6-foot-4, he has the goods to be a real threat, and his play as of late is proof positive of that.
“He’s got power to all fields," Colbrunn said. "He can go from line to line, we’re just waiting for that something special to come out. He just needs to be more consistent. He just has to get his speed under him and not try to do too much with his power at the plate. He’s got tremendous power and he can hit from line to line. He’s got something special.”
Hopefully by the end of the season, Gittens, who has lately found that nice blend of being patient yet aggressive while also using the whole field more, will have his average in top shape and will be able to show he does have what it takes to be the best he can be and show that power off to everyone.
“Right now, I’m working on finding my pitch , and I want to improve my athleticism as well," Gittens included.