Ever since I heard the name Miguel Andujar, I’ve been intrigued. Maybe I’m biased since he did throw me a ball at a minor league game last season, but Andujar has always been a guy in the Yankees farm system I’ve thought was special. Although it seems like he’s been in the Yankees system forever, Andujar is still just 22 years old, having been signed at the ripe age of 16. Because of the strong possibility of Andujar getting the starting third base job out of spring training due to the trading of Chase Headley and Todd Frazier remaining unsigned, I figured it would be valuable to dive into both the pros and cons of Miguel Andujar.
The pros of Miguel Andujar’s game are pretty simple: the kid can swing the stick. After spending most of last season split between AA and AAA, Andujar slashed .315/.352/.498 with 16 home runs to pair with 82 RBIs and 36 doubles in 125 games. Throughout his nearly 600 games in the minors, Andujar slashed a total .274/.323/.412. In a very small sample size in the majors, Andujar gave a glimpse into his future in the bigs. On June 28th, Andujar made his big league debut, going 3-for-4 while driving in four runs with a double, walk and stolen base. Those 4 RBIs were a record for a Yankees debut, and helped the Yankees rout the White Sox 12-3 on that night. In Andujar, I see quick bat speed, power to all parts of the field, and a work ethic that has helped him quickly jump up to the #5 prospect in a stacked Yankees farm system, according to MLB.com. These tools have also put him in a good position to compete for the starting third baseman job.
As high as I am on Andujar, there are a few flaws in his game that are worth noting. On the defensive side of his game, Andujar needs work. He has the arm strength to be an everyday third baseman, however his mechanics can be a major issue at times. Given another year at spring training with major league coaches, paired with his aforementioned work ethic, Andujar is set up to improve defensively. If these improvements are not made quickly, there could be a change whether it be using Andujar mainly as a DH, sending him back to AAA to work on his defense, or even trading him away. As good as Andujar has the potential to be at the plate, he tends to strike out at a good clip and doesn’t draw a lot of walks, leading to a low on-base percentage. Hitting behind the powerhouse in the middle of the Yankees lineup can lead to Andujar seeing good pitches early in at-bats and jumping on them.
Overall, I believe Andujar has the tools to be the Yankees third baseman of the future. However, it remains to be seen whether or not the Yankees front office does. Trading away Chase Headley to the Padres leaves the position open, but it also leaves room for star Manny Machado, who will be a free agent next season and is also on the trade market. If a talent like Machado is on the market, the Yankees would be crazy not to pursue him. There is also a chance the Yankees will resign Todd Frazier, once again creating a bridge for Andujar to cross. Hitting behind the monster bats of Judge, Stanton, Sanchez, Bird and Gregorious gives Andujar the chance to fly under the radar and figure it out if he earns the starting job out of spring training. It will be interesting to see if Cashman decides to use him as trade bait or keep him for the entire 2018 season. His steamer projections are high, and have him slashing .266/.311/.426 to go along with a 1.2 fWAR. If Andujar is able to maintain the starting third baseman job, don’t be surprised if Gleybar Torres isn’t the only Yankee in the heart of rookie of the year conversations.
(Picture source: Riveraveblues.com)