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Aaron Judge's sacrifice fly boosted the RailRiders Sunday afternoon. (Cheryl Purcell)

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Don’t Judge Aaron Judge Before His Time

Yankees power prospect Aaron Judge is a pleasure to deal with. He’s cooperative, modest, easy to like and easy to deal with.

And he will fulill his power potential for the Yankees in the future. Scouts tell he has the perfect package to play right field in Yankee Stadium, both offensively and defensively. His defense is outstanding, by the way, with an above-average arm that produced 12 assists in 124 starts in the outfield between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2015.

He also committed just four errors, playing excellent defense, running outstanding routes in right field – especially for a guy 6-foot-7.

“I just try to get my pitch every time up and help the team,” said the 23-year-old Judge, who will be 24 next April 23. “I always look to get better every day.

“There is always something to work on.”

Judge is ticketed to spend 2016 with the RailRiders, perhaps get a September call-up, and succeed Carlos Beltran in right field in 2017. No reason to rush the big guy from Linden, Calif., and Cal-State Fullerton. He has some things to work on, timing and hitting the off-speed stuff he is bring fed by a lot of pitchers.

“I can understand why pitchers are throwing me pitches other than fastballs,” Judge said. “It’s all part of learning and adjusting.”

Since the end of the 2015 season, there have been a few critical things mentioned about Judge. After batting .284 (71-fot-250), with 12 home runs, 44 RBIs in 63 Trenton with an .866 OPS, he scuffled a bit at Scranton, hitting ,224 (51-for-228) with eight homers and 28 RBIs. The OPS dropped to .680 in 61 games.

For the season, in which Judge missed over a dozen due to what was termed “upper leg tightness, he batted .255 (122-for-478), with 26 doubles, 20 home runs, 72 RBIs and an OPS of .777 in 124 games.

Some seem to have downgraded Judge’s value due to his performance at the plate in Scranton. He went from being compared to Giancarlo Stanton to Rob Deer in those quarters.

Nothing can be further from the truth. Don’t judge Judge until his time has come. A bit of scuffling in a first exposure to Triple-A is nothing unusual. As Judge stated in evaluating himself, it is all a time of adjusting and learning. He is hitting off-speed stuff better and will become more consistent in that area in 2016.

All power prospects hit a wall sometime during their road to the majors. Let’s again mention Stanton, who hit .231 (69-for-299) on his first exposure to Double-A at Jacksonville in 2009. Heavily in Judge’s favor is his plate control. And he’s not all that far from punishing these off-speed offerings.

“I recognize all those pitches,” said Judge of the curves and other slow stuff he sees a lot of the time. “What I need to work on is my timing, get my swing going a little quicker after the recognition.”

What Judge faced in Scranton – and in Trenton, as a matter of fact, is what every power prospect deals with in the minors. Judge hit a few home runs in Trenton that may have landed in New Brunswick early in the season. Those blasts made the difference in a few wins. He did a bit of that in Scranton, and the blasts didn’t all come off fastballs.

During his 2016 season on Scranton, as he hones his game to take over in right field for the Yankees in 2017, all he needs to lose is his “upper leg tightness.” The rest of his game will fall into place.

Certainly that is a sound Judgement.

 

 

Written By

Have covered the Yankees and their system for over 20 years. I enjoy writing about future Yankees and where a prospect stands in the system. One rule: I only analyze and comment on prospects I have seen play and have talked to.

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