The Yankees need a lot of things and Aaron Judge answers several of those things all in one package. They need outfielders, right-handed hitters, home run hitters, and good outfield defense, and Judge brings all that to the table. The Yankees might have Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, and Tyler Austin, but nothing about prospects are certain and he brings right-handed power that the system is missing.
Before the draft, Judge was ranked 30th overall by Baseball America, 17th by Keith Law at ESPN, and 24th by Jonathan Mayo for MLB. He was also previously drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 31st round of 2010 as a high schooler out of Linden, California, but decided to attend Fresno State.
The Yankees drafted the lumbering 6' 7, 255 lbs. with their 32nd overall draft pick, a compensation pick for losing Nick Swisher to the Cleveland Indians. He is a 21-year-old center fielder, but projects to be a right fielder because of his strong arm. As a Junior he batted .369 (76-for-206) with 45 runs, 15 doubles, 12 home runs, 36 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in 2013 and led the team in each category. He was a two-time First-Team All-WAC ('11, '12), a member of the WAC All-Tournament Team ('12), won the TD Ameritrade College Home Run Derby Champion ('12), was awarded the Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American ('11), and was a 10 ten prospect in the Cape Cod League ('12).
According to Keith Law he is very athletic for such a big guy (he would be the second tallest outfielder in MLB history), but has a surprisingly short swing. He has some mechanical flaws at the plate that cause his swing to be very short and he shows a lot of raw power in batting practice, but doesn't get under the ball enough to hit for a lot of power in games. Law believes Judge won't be able to play center field in professional baseball, but he does have above-average range with a plus arm, which could give him a defensive profile along the lines of Jason Heyward. Law grades his abilities as (present/future) 45/50 in hitting, 70/70 in power, 35/45 in plate discipline, running speed at 50/50, fielding range at 50/55, and arm strength at 60/60.
Jonathan Mayo says he has considerable raw power, but has inconsistent pop in his bat. He has patience, runs well, and has a strong arm; all the tools of a right fielder. He's still a bit of a gamble to see if he can tap into his power potential. Mayo graded him a 3/5 in hitting, 4/7 for power, 5/5 in running, a 6/6 arm, 5/6 in fielding, and a 4/5 overall.
What they're saying about him:
Damon Oppenheimer | Yankees' vice president of amateur scouting
"Aaron Judge is a big man, and obviously a great-bodied athlete who has a high upside. He can run, he has a good work ethic, he can throw and has the potential to be a five-tool guy with some size and strength."
Christopher Crawford | MLB draft expert
"The once loaded Yankees outfield has deteriorated over the past years, so taking an outfielder like Judge makes a lot of sense. At 6-foot-7, 255 pounds, he's got power to all fields, and like Jagielo he will enjoy the short porch of Yankee Stadium. He becomes one of -- if not the -- best hitting prospects in the system, and he could be hitting homers for the Bronx Bombers as soon as 2015."
Keith Law | ESPN
"He has 30-homer potential for a team willing to overlook what might be 150 strikeouts a year, which would still be an above-average player, but the fact that he hasn't shown a ton of power during games so far is a minor red flag."
More Yankees Draft Coverage from Pinstriped Bible:
Yankees select OF Aaron Judge|Yankees select 3B Eric Jagielo
Yankees select 2B Gosuke Katoh|Yankees select LHP Ian Clarkin
Yankees select OF Michael O'Neill|Yankees select SS Tyler Wade
Yankees select RHP David Palladino|Yankees select SS John Murphy
Yankees select RHP Nick Rumbelow|Yankees select OF Branden Thomas
Yankees select LHP Conner Kendrick|Yankees select LHP Tyler Webb