The Yankees may not undertake a complete rebuild, but they're definitely retooling. After trading veterans for blue-chip prospects at the end of July, they promoted slugger Gary Sánchez from Triple-A and have given him regular at-bats at catcher and DH.Now two more of New York's most advanced hitting prospects will
The Yankees may not undertake a complete rebuild, but they're definitely retooling. After trading veterans for blue-chip prospects at the end of July, they promoted slugger Gary Sánchez from Triple-A and have given him regular at-bats at catcher and DH.
Now two more of New York's most advanced hitting prospects will make their big league debuts today against the Rays. Tyler Austin will play first base and bat seventh, and Aaron Judge will man right field and bat eighth.
• Yankees Top 30 Prospects list
Judge is the more accomplished of the two, ranking No. 27 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list. Signed for $1.8 million as the 32nd overall pick in the 2013 Draft, the Fresno State product immediately becomes one of the most physically imposing players in the big leagues at 6-foot-7 and 275 pounds.
The 24-year-old Judge's size, strength, leverage and huge raw power have drawn parallels to those of Giancarlo Stanton. For a guy who can drive the ball great distances, he shows admirable feel for working counts and not selling out for home runs. His approach did regress when he first got to Triple-A in 2015, resulting in career-low .224/.308/.373 numbers with eight homers in 61 games.
Judge learned and made adjustments when he returned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this year. Working with Yankees hitting coordinator James Rowson and Scranton batting coach Tommy Wilson, he improved his balance, timing and plate discipline. Judge batted .270/.366/.489 in 93 games with the RailRiders and ranks second in the International League in RBI (65) and fourth in homers (19) despite missing a month with a minor left knee injury.
Given regular playing time, Judge could top New York in home runs during the final seven weeks of the regular season. Once he gets established, he could deliver 25 or more homers per year while producing healthy batting averages and on-base percentages.
A very good athlete for his size, Judge has average speed and a strong arm that play well in right field. He's won't steal many bases but picks his spots well (succeeding on 13 of his 15 pro attempts) and is fine on the bases.
Austin signed for $130,000 as 13th-rounder out of a Georgia high school in 2010. The Yankees named him their 2012 Minor League player of the year after his full-season debut, but he had trouble staying healthy during the next three seasons while battling thumb, hip and wrist injuries. He has avoided the disabled list this year while batting a combined .294/.392/.524 with 17 homers in 107 games between Double-A and Triple-A.
Austin, 24, has some of the best feel for hitting and bat speed among New York's prospects. He'll likely hit for more average and less power than Judge, though he has displayed interesting pop in the Minors when 100 percent physically. A below-average runner, he nevertheless has stolen 65 bases in 73 pro attempts (89 percent).
He has a strong arm but not a lot of range, so Austin's best position is first base. He's an average defender there and adequate on the outfield corners. He's also capable of filling in at third base, where he broke into pro ball.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.