CLEARWATER, Fla. -- At the moment, Miguel Andujar may be the best hitter within the state of Florida, and his sights remain set upon convincing the Yankees that he should be their Opening Day third baseman.
Andujar homered in each of his first two at-bats, helping the Yankees to a 6-4 Grapefruit League victory over the Phillies on Thursday at Spectrum Field. The 22-year-old ambushed first-pitch fastballs from Nick Pivetta in the second inning and Pedro Beato in the third inning, and has four homers and six hits in 14 at-bats (.429).
• Andujar's elite exit velo adds fuel to the hype
"I can't really pay too much attention about this being a competition," Andujar said through an interpreter. "I'm taking it for what it is; me going out there and doing my job. That's what I like to do. I'm supposed to do my job and when I get the chance, go out there and do it."
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Andujar entered camp as a leading candidate to man third base before the Yankees traded for the more experienced Brandon Drury in late February. General manager Brian Cashman has said that he views Drury as having "a leg up" over Andujar, whom scouts believe will mash big league pitching but carries concerns about his defense. Drury isn't shying away from a fight.
"The kid's a stud. He's a really good player," Drury said of Andujar. "He's playing really good right now. I always feel like I'm battling for a job. I've never had anything given to me, so I've always had to work and earn everything."
Drury kept the competition interesting on Thursday, crediting a mechanical tweak to his launch angle for a fifth-inning homer of his own. Though Drury is 3-for-8 (.375) since joining the Yanks, the excitement over Andujar's hot start is spreading.
During the sixth inning, Carsten Sabathia walked into the clubhouse and glanced toward a television, which was showing the flight of Christopher Austin's homer -- one of five hit by the Yanks on Thursday.
"That Andujar?" Sabathia said, with incredulity.
Ranked as the Yankees' No. 4 prospect by MLB Pipeline, Andujar split most of last season between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, hitting .315/.352/.498 with 16 homers and 82 RBIs in 125 games. He was 4-for-7 (.571) in five big league games.
"He's special from a bat speed standpoint," manager Aaron Boone said. "He knows where his barrel is, walks up there with a lot of confidence. It's good to see him continue to swing it. Shoot, even his third at-bat, he just missed hitting another one. He just got underneath it. He was all over that pitch."
The necessary cold splash on Andujar's performance, of course, is that it is early. Asked if he had ever seen a player begin a spring swinging such a hot bat, Boone recalled the name of outfielder Mike Kelly, who hit .241 over a six-year big league career from 1994-99.
That said, the Yankees believe that Andujar is someone whom they can be legitimately excited about -- even if it presents a tough decision down the line.
"It's March 1," Boone said. "We just want to see Drury get comfortable, we want to see Miggy continue to develop and continue to play well and get better and better. Hopefully, at some point, it presents all kinds of nice problems for us."