Eric Jagielo is a good guy. Loves to talk about Notre Dame and developing as a third baseman in the Yankees farm system.
Prior to the 2015 season, the 23-year-old – he won’t turn 24 until next May 17, had two main goals.
“I want to stay healthy, and I want to improve at third base,” he said. “I am very comfortable at the plate.”
Jagielo, unfortunately, did not stay healthy – appearing in just 58 games with the Double-A Trenton Thunder, batting .284 (110-for-222) with nine homers and 35 RBIs – and will need to start again in 2016, likely at Trenton.
His play at third base, which featured nine errors in 39 starts at the hot corner and an .883 fielding percentage, did not really improve for the 6-foot-2, 215-pound native of Downers Grove, Ill. Yet, his OPS that checks in at .842 has many tempted, Can Jagielo play third base in the majors?
The answer will have to wait after his past season was cut short due to a right knee injury sustained June 16, 2015, when sliding into home plate. The injury led to surgery, and Jagielo, whom the Yankees planned to place in the Arizona Fall League, was pulled when the club did not feel his knee was ready, The team decided to make sure Jagielo was healthy for spring training.
So, the question is what do the Yankees do with Jagielo? Miguel Andujar, a superior fielder, who played at Class-A Advanced Tampa in 2015, had something of an uneven offensive season in the Florida State League, batting .241 (117-405) for the T-Yanks. The Yankees love his soft hands.
Several have talked about moving Jagielo to first base, but Greg Bird, with his efforts in 2015, has cemented his status as Mark Teixeira‘s successor. He showed he can hit big-league pitching and his defense is certainly solid. If Jagielo ends up a first baseman, it will likely be with another organization.
Andujar could stay at Tampa to start 2016, but a more likely scenario is he will move to Trenton. That being the case, Jagielo could play some first base with the Double-A club. That scenario could happen in Arm & Hammer Park next season.
Jagielo spent tine at DH in Trenton. Is that his future? Some think so. Some say the jury is still out, Jagielo’s first step with fielding ground balls did improve, but the overall package with his throwing did not. He still needs a lot of work defensively. His status as the 26th selection in the 2013 draft gives him a longer rope.
On the other hand, while his power is just developing, Andujar is the superior third baseman. Many players’ averages suffer in the Florida State League, with the big ballparks and the scorching weather. Many feel Andujar could hit better in the Eastern League. The 2016 season is a key one in his development as well.
Even giving Jagielo a pass with an injury-curtailed campaign in 2015, one seriously has to wonder just what direction his future with the Yankees is. The former Fighting Irish star has a lot to prove in 2016. He needs to stay healthy and improve his play at third base.
His goals for 2016 mimic what his original goals for 2015 were.