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Beltran asks to locker next to prospect Judge

MLB.com @BryanHoch

TAMPA, Fla. -- Aaron Judge has moved into the high-rent district of the Yankees' clubhouse, and it is no accident. Carlos Beltran requested that the top prospect locker next to his corner space this spring, perhaps seeing his heir apparent in right field.

Beltran called manager Joe Girardi shortly before pitchers and catchers reported to George M. Steinbrenner Field to make the necessary arrangements, as first reported on Monday by New Jersey Advance Media.

TAMPA, Fla. -- Aaron Judge has moved into the high-rent district of the Yankees' clubhouse, and it is no accident. Carlos Beltran requested that the top prospect locker next to his corner space this spring, perhaps seeing his heir apparent in right field.

Beltran called manager Joe Girardi shortly before pitchers and catchers reported to George M. Steinbrenner Field to make the necessary arrangements, as first reported on Monday by New Jersey Advance Media.

"That's pretty cool, you know," Judge said. "Being next to a legend is awesome. Carlos is a guy I've watched for years growing up, just how he handles himself on the field and off the field. He's a class act, so it's a pretty cool honor and privilege to be here."

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Beltran will turn 39 in April, and he is entering the final season of his deal with the Yankees. The eight-time All-Star recognizes that the club is planning on a future that includes Judge, who will turn 24 in April and is rated as the team's No. 1 prospect by MLB Pipeline.

"He's a guy [who is] the future of this organization, and I feel like I'll help him," Beltran said Monday, according to the New York Daily News. "When I was growing up and in the big leagues the first year, I had some veteran guys who took care of me, helped me, along the way.

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"The game of baseball is not about what you can do for yourself -- I know what I can do for me -- but about trying to impact younger guys. I take pride in that."

Judge made some solid contact Monday facing Yankees right-hander Nathan Eovaldi in live batting practice, and Yankees people say that Judge appears thicker and stronger than last year, quite a feat for the 6-foot-7, 275-pounder.

"He's an impressive young man, and the way he plays the game, he plays the game the right way," Girardi said. "The way he goes about his work is the right way. We'll see a lot of him in Spring Training this year.

"A lot of people look at him as being a future star for us. He's making little adjustments that he needs to make as a player to iron things out, but it's good to see him in camp."

Regardless of how he performs in the Grapefruit League, Judge is expected to begin the year at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he finished the year batting .224/.308/.373 with eight homers and 28 RBIs in 61 games.

Having worked with Yankees coaches James Rowson and Marcus Thames on several occasions during the winter, Judge is trying to adjust to that higher level of pro pitching, where he was fed a steady diet of offspeed pitches.

"At Double-A, I saw a lot of guys that really came after you," Judge said. "Triple-A was a lot of older guys that had been in the league, up and down, and they know how to pitch. Just trying to wait back and get your pitch is really the biggest thing for me."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.

New York Yankees, Carlos Beltran, Aaron Judge