This story was originally a part of our 2016 New York Yankees Top 50 Prospect Profiles.
Eric Jagielo was the 26th player selected in the 2013 draft in the Yankees’ selection bonanza that year.
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Notre Dame product came with a potent bat and questionable defense as the 13th-rated prospect on our list.
He proved both last season in a 58-game stint at Trenton which was limited by various injuries, including a left knee issue and subsequent surgery that had the Yankees pull him from the Arizona Fall League. Jagielo batted .284 (63-for-222) with nine homers and 35 RBIs.
In the field, he made nine errors in 39 starts at third base, scuffling to an .883 fielding percentage. His first step in fielding a grounder was somewhat improved, his accuracy with throws was not.
Jagielo set goals for himself as he arrived at Double-A Trenton in 2015.
“I want to improve my whole game defensively,’’ he said. “I know I can handle third base, and I know what I have to do.’’
The start of Jagielo’s knee issues came as the result of a play at home plate during a Thunder game June 16. He jammed the knee and, at the time, 2015 Thunder manager Al Pedrique talked of “loose bodies’’ in the knee and the player “would be out for some time.’’
Jagielo ended up getting the scope and will certainly be ready for Spring Training. He missed the Arizona Fall League in 2014 as well after bring hit in the face by a pitch in the Instructional League, suffering a broken bone and undergoing surgery.
So where does Jagielo fit at this point? He will almost certainly return to Trenton in 2016 and perhaps get another shot at third base, but the situation is murky with Miguel Andujar, who is a better overall fielder and finished strong at Class-A Advanced Tampa last season, also given a shot there.
As far as first base, where the Yankees plan to give Jagielo time in 2015, a few others, such as Billy Fleming, who emerged as a strong hitter in his own right last season, are also working at that position.
Many scouts agree the best position in the field for Jagielo, with his excellent power potential, is first base. The problem with that as far as the Yankees are concerned is Greg Bird, especially with his 2015 performance in the majors, is certainly the successor to Mark Teixeira after the 2016 season.
Jagielo will be one to watch in Spring Training. He is a past first-round pick, and will be given every chance to succeed. The question is whether he can actually adapt to first base. Others, such as Pedro Alvarez in Pittsburgh, were unable to.
Again, however, as a past first-round selection with a power bat, the Yankees will certainly see what they can do to make Jagielo a future major contributor.