Scouting Yankees Prospect #17: Brandon Laird

The Yankees drafted Brandon Laird in the 27th round of the 2007 MLB Draft out of Cypress College. The brother of Texas Rangers catcher Gerald Laird, he proved his terrific professional debut season of 2007 was no fluke by going out and leading the Yankees farm system in home runs and finishing one RBI behind the leader in 2008.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Brandon Laird
Position: First Base/Third Base
DOB: September 11, 1987
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 215
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

"I think the year went good," said Laird. "I progressed as the season went on and I was just getting a lot of professional at-bats, getting used to see how they pitch me, and I started picking it up well.

"I started the season off a little slow but [Charleston hitting coach] Greg Colbrunn and I had a good friendship, and we talked all the time about consistency. As the season went on my swing got consistent. It felt good, I didn't change anything. I finished strong and I was just trying to have a good year, and I did. It felt good."

He never really found a rhythm at the plate in Spring Training and it carried over into his time in the South Atlantic League, hitting just .222 with four home runs through the first two months, which was a far cry from the .339 hitter he was with the Gulf Coast League Yankees in 2007.

Admitting he got a little home run happy at the start of the season, he wound hitting .301 the rest of the way for the Charleston Riverdogs and finished his first full season hitting .273 with 31 doubles, 23 home runs, and 86 RBI after he focused on just being a better hitter overall instead of merely a slugger.

"That's where I got into some trouble in the beginning of the season," he reflected. "My swing started feeling good and then I started thinking everything was going to be inside, and I just wanted to start pulling the ball and start launching the ball.

"That's where I started getting into trouble so I just went back to my game plan of see the ball, hit the ball, think up the middle and right field.

"Once I established I could hit the ball to right field with some power, then I'm going to start getting my pitches. They're not going to try and pitch me away, they're going to pitch me inside and that's my hot-spot."

Considered an all-hit/no glove third baseman by some scouts prior to being drafted and causing him to slip down to the 27th round, Laird went to work on his body and range last offseason and the results were better glovework at the hot corner in Charleston.

Playing on the same team as Bradley Suttle, however, he wound up seeing much more time over at first base and he started to prove his defensive worth at his newest position.

"I know my swing is going to be there," he opined. "I still want to work on my swing everyday but my main thing is my defense. I want to work some more at first base and get more familiar with the position.

"I picked it up real well this year and turned into a pretty good first baseman. I'm going to work on first and third, both positions so I can have some versatility, but that's going to be my main concern again - my defense."

Morphing into more of a two-way player that can help a club on both sides of the ball, while he would like to continue to his defensive progress, he knows his greatest value is with his bat and he wants to make sure he makes that next step in becoming the more consistent .300 hitter he believes he is.

"I feel like next year I'll be back where I was," said Laird. "I went through some struggles this year but I did what I needed to do to get out of them.

"This year I found out late and I had to get three hits everyday to get my average up a bunch, but next year I'm going to get my consistency together and do it the whole year, and see if I can get above .300 like I did my first year."

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2008

Charleston

.273

454

31

23

86

71

1

40

86

.334

.498

2007

GCL Yankees

.339

168

14

8

29

27

0

6

26

.367

.577



Batting and Power. Laird's bread and butter is his plus power to all fields. He uses his long arms to extend his power zone to the outside and his tremendous bat speed makes him a dangerous power hitter on inside pitches as well. When he's going right, he uses an up the middle to opposite field approach and even though he's a slugger, he's a very good contact hitter. Despite his walk-to-strikeout ratios, Laird has very good plate discipline and pitch recognition. If he could ever get a little more patience offensively, he has the foundation in place to draw a number of walks. His 2008 average notwithstanding, Laird is a .300 hitter just as long as he doesn't try to do too much at the plate and when he allows the game to come to him. And with his natural power, that equates into a great number of extra-base hits.

Base Running and Speed. Like most sluggers, Laird is more of a station-to-station base runner. Not a real base running threat at all, although he has improved his agility since being drafted, he is just a shade better than most corner infielders in the running game.

Defense. Laird gets unfairly knocked as a bad defensive player when he's pretty solid in actuality. He doesn't have the greatest range, but it is improving. He does have good hands, a very strong arm, and he is quite good at short-hopping balls and scooping them out of the dirt. He is also very good flagging down foul pop-ups close to the stands and he has gotten better on the slow-rollers as well. He'll never be confused with a Gold Glove caliber player, but he is more than adequate defensively at third base and a bit better at first base.

Projection. Lost in Laird's power potential, which has the chance to be pretty special, is his tremendous work ethic behind the scenes and his charisma as a leader on the field. He is able to find motivation from all avenues to help push him to be better too. Whether it's falling in the draft as far as he did to help him play with a chip on his shoulder, or if it's his drive to outperform his teammates [he routinely competes with Jesus Montero to see who will come up with the big hit] or even his brother, Laird has that extra gear drive-wise. While he plays a serviceable defensive third base and a smidge better at first, his greatest asset is his bat. He often gets compared to Kansas City Royals designated hitter Billy Butler for his ability to hit for average and home runs, and like Butler he could man some corner positions before eventually settling down as a designated hitter who profiles best as a fifth hitter in the lineup.

ETA. 2011. Laird will put his power to the test in the vast parks of the Florida State League with the Tampa Yankees in 2009. He'll need to be protected on the 40-man roster by 2010 and his bat isn't that far away from being big league ready.

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\r\n \r\n\r\nVital Statistics:
\r\nName: Brandon Laird
\r\nPosition: First Base/Third Base
\r\nDOB: September 11, 1987
\r\nHeight: 6'1\"
\r\nWeight: 215
\r\nBats: Right
\r\nThrows: Right
\r\n
\r\n\"I think the year went good,\" said Laird. \"I progressed as the season went on and I was just getting a lot of professional at-bats, getting used to see how they pitch me, and I started picking it up well.
\r\n
\r\n\"I started the season off a little slow but [Charleston hitting coach] Greg Colbrunn and I had a good friendship, and we talked all the time about consistency. As the season went on my swing got consistent. It felt good, I didn't change anything. I finished strong and I was just trying to have a good year, and I did. It felt good.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe never really found a rhythm at the plate in Spring Training and it carried over into his time in the South Atlantic League, hitting just .222 with four home runs through the first two months, which was a far cry from the .339 hitter he was with the Gulf Coast League Yankees in 2007.
\r\n
\r\nAdmitting he got a little home run happy at the start of the season, he wound hitting .301 the rest of the way for the Charleston Riverdogs and finished his first full season hitting .273 with 31 doubles, 23 home runs, and 86 RBI after he focused on just being a better hitter overall instead of merely a slugger.
\r\n
\r\n\"That's where I got into some trouble in the beginning of the season,\" he reflected. \"My swing started feeling good and then I started thinking everything was going to be inside, and I just wanted to start pulling the ball and start launching the ball.
\r\n
\r\n\"That's where I started getting into trouble so I just went back to my game plan of see the ball, hit the ball, think up the middle and right field.
\r\n
\r\n\"Once I established I could hit the ball to right field with some power, then I'm going to start getting my pitches. They're not going to try and pitch me away, they're going to pitch me inside and that's my hot-spot.\"
\r\n
\r\nConsidered an all-hit/no glove third baseman by some scouts prior to being drafted and causing him to slip down to the 27th round, Laird went to work on his body and range last offseason and the results were better glovework at the hot corner in Charleston.
\r\n
\r\nPlaying on the same team as Bradley Suttle, however, he wound up seeing much more time over at first base and he started to prove his defensive worth at his newest position.
\r\n
\r\n\"I know my swing is going to be there,\" he opined. \"I still want to work on my swing everyday but my main thing is my defense. I want to work some more at first base and get more familiar with the position.
\r\n
\r\n\"I picked it up real well this year and turned into a pretty good first baseman. I'm going to work on first and third, both positions so I can have some versatility, but that's going to be my main concern again - my defense.\"
\r\n
\r\nMorphing into more of a two-way player that can help a club on both sides of the ball, while he would like to continue to his defensive progress, he knows his greatest value is with his bat and he wants to make sure he makes that next step in becoming the more consistent .300 hitter he believes he is.
\r\n
\r\n\"I feel like next year I'll be back where I was,\" said Laird. \"I went through some struggles this year but I did what I needed to do to get out of them.
\r\n
\r\n\"This year I found out late and I had to get three hits everyday to get my average up a bunch, but next year I'm going to get my consistency together and do it the whole year, and see if I can get above .300 like I did my first year.\"
\r\n
\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n
\r\n

\r\n Year

\r\n

\r\n Team

\r\n

\r\n AVG

\r\n

\r\n AB

\r\n

\r\n 2B

\r\n

\r\n HR

\r\n

\r\n RBI

\r\n

\r\n R

\r\n

\r\n SB

\r\n

\r\n BB

\r\n

\r\n SO

\r\n

\r\n OBP

\r\n

\r\n SLG

\r\n

\r\n 2008

\r\n

\r\n Charleston

\r\n

\r\n .273

\r\n

\r\n 454

\r\n

\r\n 31

\r\n

\r\n 23

\r\n

\r\n 86

\r\n

\r\n 71

\r\n

\r\n 1

\r\n

\r\n 40

\r\n

\r\n 86

\r\n

\r\n .334

\r\n

\r\n .498

\r\n

\r\n 2007

\r\n

\r\n GCL Yankees

\r\n

\r\n .339

\r\n

\r\n 168

\r\n

\r\n 14

\r\n

\r\n 8

\r\n

\r\n 29

\r\n

\r\n 27

\r\n

\r\n 0

\r\n

\r\n 6

\r\n

\r\n 26

\r\n

\r\n .367

\r\n

\r\n .577


\r\n
\r\nBatting and Power. Laird's bread and butter is his plus power to all fields. He uses his long arms to extend his power zone to the outside and his tremendous bat speed makes him a dangerous power hitter on inside pitches as well. When he's going right, he uses an up the middle to opposite field approach and even though he's a slugger, he's a very good contact hitter. Despite his walk-to-strikeout ratios, Laird has very good plate discipline and pitch recognition. If he could ever get a little more patience offensively, he has the foundation in place to draw a number of walks. His 2008 average notwithstanding, Laird is a .300 hitter just as long as he doesn't try to do too much at the plate and when he allows the game to come to him. And with his natural power, that equates into a great number of extra-base hits.
\r\n
\r\nBase Running and Speed. Like most sluggers, Laird is more of a station-to-station base runner. Not a real base running threat at all, although he has improved his agility since being drafted, he is just a shade better than most corner infielders in the running game.
\r\n
\r\nDefense. Laird gets unfairly knocked as a bad defensive player when he's pretty solid in actuality. He doesn't have the greatest range, but it is improving. He does have good hands, a very strong arm, and he is quite good at short-hopping balls and scooping them out of the dirt. He is also very good flagging down foul pop-ups close to the stands and he has gotten better on the slow-rollers as well. He'll never be confused with a Gold Glove caliber player, but he is more than adequate defensively at third base and a bit better at first base.
\r\n
\r\nProjection. Lost in Laird's power potential, which has the chance to be pretty special, is his tremendous work ethic behind the scenes and his charisma as a leader on the field. He is able to find motivation from all avenues to help push him to be better too. Whether it's falling in the draft as far as he did to help him play with a chip on his shoulder, or if it's his drive to outperform his teammates [he routinely competes with Jesus Montero to see who will come up with the big hit] or even his brother, Laird has that extra gear drive-wise. While he plays a serviceable defensive third base and a smidge better at first, his greatest asset is his bat. He often gets compared to Kansas City Royals designated hitter Billy Butler for his ability to hit for average and home runs, and like Butler he could man some corner positions before eventually settling down as a designated hitter who profiles best as a fifth hitter in the lineup.
\r\n
\r\nETA. 2011. Laird will put his power to the test in the vast parks of the Florida State League with the Tampa Yankees in 2009. He'll need to be protected on the 40-man roster by 2010 and his bat isn't that far away from being big league ready.
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

Are you a monthly or 3-month subscriber to PinstripesPlus.com? Why not get two months free AND get 4 issues of our PinstripesPlus Magazine included by becoming an annual subscriber? Upgrade today to get the most out of your subscription.

\r\n

\r\n

Become an annual subscriber today!

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