By JED WEISBERGER
Dozens of Yankees fans have already heralded the coming of third baseman Miguel Andujar.
They talk rightfully about how good a hitter the soon-to-be 23-year-old native of San Cristobal, D.R, is. He did go 3-for-4 with four RBIs in his MLB debut last June 26 in Chicago. He recorded three other Yankees at-bats later, going 1-for-3.
Andujar has quick wrists, a sweet swing and some power – he hit an impressive .315 (151-for-480) with 16 home runs, 36 doubles and 82 RBIs between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2017.
He’s a great kid, composed, confident in a good way, coachable, knows the game and what he has to do.
“I have to keep improving and keep getting better in all phases of the game,’’ Andujar said during his time in Trenton. “I want to contribute to the Yankees as soon as I can.’’
We’d like to see Andujar do just that, because, if all goes well, the Yankees will have a potential All-Star at the hot corner for at least the next decade. His bat is certainly MLB-ready, and it is not outlandish to state he has 20-homer, 100-RBI potential.
Scouts love Andujar, agreeing about his offensive potential. The defense is where some questions arise. With the way he hits, can his defense improve to passable?
“The feeling is,’’ said a scout from the NL East, “is will the Yankees feel his hitting will make up for some subpar defense? Everyone knows he’s a good kid who is working hard on what he needs to.
“I’m anxious to see what he does in Spring Training.’’
The Yankees are feeling the same, certainly providing Andujar a legitimate shot under Florida’s warm and sunny skies in March. Aside from possibly bringing back Todd Frazier to keep the seat warm for a season. Andujar’s potential is better than any veteran 2018 free-agent.
One area in which Andujar needs to improve is throwing, where his cannon-level arm delivers the ball sidearm. There really is nothing wrong with throwing sidearm, but his accuracy must improve. That can be fine-tuned.
The other is his footwork, which is something he can only work on himself. His catch-and-release needs to be a bit smoother. An upgrade there would also increase his accuracy. Footwork really can’t be taught, and the player has been working on his setup and reaction.
Andujar charges batted balls well.
A few years ago, Rob Refsnyder was in the same boat as far as plus-hitting and minus-defending are concerned. He was given several chances, but never took to defense all that well. Andujar is the opposite, having drawn praise from the organization for his work-ethic and effort to improve.
Andujar, with his bat, will have a solid MLB career. He’s the type of kid, when you get to know him, you want to succeed.
Here’s hoping his Spring Training goes well, and he’s the Yankees’ Opening Day third baseman. His potential is not what anyone wants to see go to waste.