Judge being judged on more than results

Yankees prospect only has one hit so far, but Girardi likes his patient approach

March 9th, 2016

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- A picture of Aaron Judge signing autographs was on the front page of the Palm Beach Post sports section Wednesday morning. So far this spring, however, Judge has not done much with his bat to warrant front-page news.

The 6-foot-7, 275-pound right fielder is one of the most physically imposing prospects in the game, and his power has been on display the past two seasons in the Minors, where he has hit 37 home runs with 150 RBIs and a .467 slugging percentage. Last season, Judge led all of the Yankees' Minor Leaguers with 20 homers and 72 RBIs, and MLBPipeline.com ranks him as the club's No. 2 prospect.

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The bat has been mostly silent at the start of Spring Training, however. Judge's only hit in 10 at-bats this spring was a home run, and he has struck out six times. But Yankees manager Joe Girardi has seen positive results beyond the stats.

"I think his at-bats have been pretty good," Girardi said of Judge, who flied out to right in his only at-bat during Wednesday's 4-4 tie against the Mets at Tradition Field. "I think he's been really patient. I don't see him chasing pitches. He's struck out a little bit, but it's early in spring, so you don't make too much of it, but I think he's having patient at-bats."

Judge is a non-roster invitee to Yankees camp and likely will start this season in the Minors, but there's a possibility that a callup to the big club could be on the horizon sometime this summer for the Yankees' first-round pick in the 2013 Draft.

"I try not to worry about that," Judge said. "I just try to focus on what I can control."

Judge came within a few feet of his second home run this spring on Tuesday when he jumped on a high, inside fastball from Marlins reliever Mike Dunn in the seventh inning. But the ball tailed foul and landed not far from where CC Sabathia was being interviewed by reporters outside the visitors' clubhouse.

"Just got around on it a little bit," Judge said of his foul blast. "It had a chance, but I saw the spin was kind of taking it foul a little bit and the wind was blowing it a little, too. It was just a long strike."

As for Judge learning to be more patient at the plate, he said he's learning that it's all about the timing.

"It's more about just getting a pitch I can drive," Judge said. "That's the biggest thing, especially up here in Major League camp. You're probably going to get maybe one pitch, maybe no pitches, in an at-bat that you can drive, so just wait it out until you get that pitch and don't miss it. That's the biggest thing, is just making sure you don't miss it."