The final series of our offseason will be a profile of 25 prospects of interest in the Yankees system. We kick off that series today with Miguel Andujar.
The Yankees have a lot of prospects, not a lot of top prospects, mind you, but a lot of players who happen to drift around in their minor league system, making a living while playing professional baseball. Very few of them are likely to have much impact at the major league level, but they do have some players that show a spark of hope. Many of them currently sit in the lower levels of the system, too young to project and too inexperienced to properly rank. Miguel Andujar is just such a prospect, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't be on your radar.
The Yankees signed the six-foot, 175 pound third baseman out of the Dominican Republic to a $700,000 signing bonus before the 2012 MLB season. Instead of starting his career in the Dominican Summer League, like many international free agents do, Andujar began his career in America with the Gulf Coast Yankees.
The Yankees made him a priority that offseason after seeing just how well he hit everywhere he played. Ben Badler of Baseball America noted that he has "plenty of game experience, and it's evident in the way he plays." The way he described Andujar made it seem like he has some great potential, commenting that "he doesn't have one knockout tool, but he has a good swing, good bat speed and advanced feel for hitting for his age. He has quick hands and a good swing path, with the potential to hit for average and power."
Gulf Coast (Rk): 34 G, 144 PA, .323/.368/.496, 11 2B, 4 HR, 4 SB, 1 CS, 21 K
Andujar made his debut in 2012, hitting an unimpressive .232/.288/.299 in 191 plate appearances over 50 games. He compiled a 6.8% walk rate and a 19.4% strikeout rate, while hitting one home run and collecting one stolen base, though he was caught a total of three times. He drastically improved his game in 2013, hitting .323/.368/.496 in 144 plate appearances across 34 games. His walk rate dropped slightly to 5.2%, but his strikeout rate improved to 15.7%. He also showed more power, hitting four home runs and stealing four bases against only one caught stealing.
Despite being a right-handed hitter, Andujar has hit right-handed pitchers better than left-handed pitchers. He has batted .281/.335/.418 against righties, with all five of his professional home runs coming against same-sided pitchers. Meanwhile, he has hit .266/.309/.348 against lefties over the last two seasons.
Described as being "solid in the field as well, with the ability to handle third base and a strong arm" at the time of the signing, he has shown to be at least serviceable. In 2012, he committed 14 errors in 50 games for a .907 fielding percentage, but he had a worse season in 2013, when he had 11 errors in only 26 games, for a .869 fielding percentage. Despite the backtrack, he's still only 18, so he has plenty of time to improve.
Unfortunately, Miguel Andujar doesn't rank very highly in the overall Yankee system, but after his 2013 season, he's likely to move up to some degree. It's obvious that he wouldn't have shown up on any list after a single disappointing season, but he did show up in Bronx Baseball Daily's top 50 Yankees prospects this year. He was ranked at No. 38 in June before the MLB Draft, but moved down to No. 49 in July, after the likes of Eric Jagielo, Aaron Judge, Ian Clarkin, and Gosuke Katoh joined the organization.
He has hit a combined .271/.322/.384 over his two-year career, and even a batting line similar to that level would make him one of the more impressive Yankee prospects in the system. It's likely that Andujar remains in extended spring training before moving over to the Staten Island Yankees to play third base. Eric Jagielo, the system's top third base prospect, should be out of short season by then, whether he starts the season in Low-A Charleston or is promoted there by midseason. Andujar has yet to play any other position, but if he maintains 2013's level of success, the Yankees might try him out elsewhere on the diamond just to add to his versatility and value. Before we get ahead of ourselves, though, we need to see what he does in 2014.
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