Yankees Prospect Profile: Eric Jagielo

Jagielo playing for Harwich in the Cape Cod League on July 15, 2012. - Mary K. Albis

The top Yankees pick from last year's draft has a great deal of potential, but how soon could we realistically hope to see his bat in the Bronx?

Background:

With their top pick in the 2013 MLB Draft (the 26th overall), the Yankees selected the lefthanded hitting third baseman Eric Jagielo (pronounced "juh-guy-lo") out of Notre Dame, the same alma mater as current Yankee pitcher David Phelps. It actually wasn't Jagielo's first time at the draft rodeo; with one of the last picks in the 2010 draft, the Cubs drafted him in the 50th round when he had just graduated from Downers Grove North High School in Illinois. Jagielo unsurprisingly turned them down and went on to star for the Fighting Irish, with whom he hit .321/.420/.532 with 47 doubles and 27 homers over his three years.

Jagielo also spent time in the collegiate summer Cape Cod League during the summer of 2012. He was named team MVP of the Harwich Mariners for batting .291 with 13 homers, earning all-Cape Cod League honors. (The photo used for this article came from his time in Harwich; photographer Mary K. Albis was kind enough to let me use it since SB Nation does not currently have any Jagielo photos in its Photo Editor. I highly recommend her Flickr albums for more!)

In his last year at Notre Dame, Jagielo went out with a bang, finishing three hits shy of .400 thanks to a stellar .388/.500/.633 triple slash with 19 doubles and nine homers. He led the league in on-base percentage and slugging percentage, making him an obvious choice for 2013 Big East Player of the Year. His head coach, Mik Aoki, called him "one of the most talent hitters" he'd ever been around, and "a person of great character and integrity." Many expected Jagielo to be taken in the first round of the draft, and the Yankees delivered, making Jagielo just the the third Notre Dame position player to be taken in the first round.

2013 Results:

Staten Island (SS-A): 51 G, 218 PA, .266/.376/.451, 14 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 0 SB, 0 CS, 54 K, .390 wOBA, 153 wRC+

Jagielo's Yankee career got off to an inauspicious start when, in typical 2013 Yankees fashion, he tweaked his hamstring and slightly delaying his first games in A-ball until the start of July. The Yankees assigned him to short-season Staten Island, where he had a pretty solid professional debut. The 24.8% strikeout percentage was a little concerning, but it's not unusual for players to be somewhat hack-happy shortly after getting drafted; Marlon Byrd had a 25% strikeout rate during his first season in the same New York-Penn League. He had a strong walk rate anyway at 11.9%, so it's not as though he didn't have any plate discipline.

Lefthanded pitching proved to be no problem for Jagielo, who destroyed them for a .381/.500/.643 triple slash in 52 plate appearances. He oddly had a reverse platoon split going on though, as his line against righties fell to .232/.339/.397. It's likely small sample size weirdness, but it's certainly something to keep an eye on as develops. In the field, he only made three errors in 98 chances, perhaps temporarily quieting some concerns about his long-term future at the position. Baseball America ranked him the sixth-best player in the New York-Penn League at the conclusion of the 2013 season.

2014 Outlook:

The Yankees' vice president of player operations, Mark Newman, hinted that the Yankees could be aggressive with Jagielo and send him to High-A Tampa to start the 2014 season. Since scouts have already called Jagielo's bat "polished" from his time at Notre Dame, that would make a lot of sense since Jagielo's college pedigree makes him a little bit more advanced of a prospect than the minor leaguers drafted straight out of high school. Jagielo turns 22 in May and if he hits as well as he did at Staten Island, then he has the potential to zoom through the minor league system.

The Yankees definitely need a third baseman and a legitimate young hitting prospect on their team soon, and they have high hopes for Jagielo. There are still obviously parts of his game that need work though. Even the most developed college bats usually need at least a full year in the minors to hone their craft; the Reds' third baseman Todd Frazier was a college prospect as well and while he was drafted in 2007, he did make his big league debut until May 2011. That doesn't mean that it would definitely take Jagielo until 2017 to reach the majors, but it does mean that counting on him for 2015 would be a little too hopeful unless he really kills the ball in 2014.

Jagielo's bat is quite promising though. His best-case scenario for 2014 is perhaps ending the season with the Trenton Thunder after a strong stint in High-A Tampa, but it will be interesting to see how he adjusts to a full season of baseball and playing in parks that aren't known for being kind to hitters. Even if he begins in Charleston as opposed to Tampa, "the Joe" does not like hitters, and neither does Arm & Hammer Park if he reaches Trenton. Steinbrennerface Field plays relatively neutral, but it is definitely anti-dingers. Although Jagielo will have his work cut out for him, the early returns on him are quite nice. With another fine campaign, it would not be surprising at all to see him start cracking top 100 prospect lists. Hopefully, here's to the rise of the Yankees' first legitimate infield prospect in years.

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