Name: Aaron Judge
DOB: April 26, 1992
Batting and Power. It's no surprise that Judge, standing 6-foot-7 and weighing a muscular 275 pounds, is noted for his plus power more than anything. And it's plus power to all fields too, not just to the pull-side where his home runs can be quite titanic. He can muscle up and take pitches over the fence to the opposite field when they would most likely be pop-ups for most hitters and he can drive balls deep over the left field fence too. There isn't a park that can limit his power either. But while it is the power that is quite noticeable for even the most passive fan, Judge is actually a much better hitter than most observers realize. Yes there are some inevitable pitfalls with being somebody of his enormous size, including larger limbs and resulting bigger strike zones. However, the fact is he can really 'stay small' mechanically for somebody so huge. His swing is actually quite short and compact for somebody his size, and given his advanced patience, excellent pitch recognition, and above average to plus plate discipline, he is more of a natural hitter than many pundits realize. There have been and will continue to be some adjustments needed to be made to his swing and approach but it's more of a byproduct of his unique size than any short of shortcoming to his overall hitting ability. Billed [and rightfully so] as a power guy, Judge is actually more hitter than slugger; it just may take some time for him to get all of his bigger parts in sync.
Base Running and Speed. Like most sluggers Judge doesn't project to have any sort of real impact swiping bases. However, unlike most sluggers Judge is quite athletic and can show some nimbleness. His impact stealing bases most likely will be limited to a few bases here and there, perhaps peaking in the very low double-digits in his best years, but he can be far from a liability running from station to station too. In fact, he can be quite steady running the bases overall.
Defense. Just like his base running Judge is far from a liability in the field. In fact, he shows solid average range, a good glove, he gets good reads on the ball coming off of the bat, his head is always in the game; and he knows where to go with the ball before it's ever hit to him. Throw in special arm strength and accurate throws, he's not just reliable in the field but a true asset. He has Gold Glove potential.
Projection. Judge is special in so many ways, from his enormous size and athletic prowess to his plus power to all fields to his cannon for an arm, all of which are major reasons why he inevitably gets tagged with comparisons to Giancarlo Stanton and former Yankee great David Winfield. And the comparisons are fair in those regards too. However, Judge's most recent struggles both at Triple-A in 2015 and to the big leagues last year, initially adapting to his newest levels, have unfairly brought criticism to his hitting ability when the fact is everything about him -- shorter compact swing, good patience, a whole field approach, excellent pitch recognition and plate discipline -- all scream average or better long-term hitter. Throw in great makeup, natural leadership skills, and a history of being able to make adjustments, Judge is more hitter than pure slugger, it just make take a little bit more time for him to find his comfort zone given his size. There's not just heart of the order power here, there's the potential for a consistent hitter too. He has .300 hitting potential, it just may not happen overnight.
ETA. N/A. We mentioned a year ago he was pretty much big league ready then and that he would make his big league debut at some point in 2016, and it played out that exact way. And now he appears ready to be a cornerstone type player going forward.