2016 Statistics: 130 G, .273/.332/.410, 12 HR, 83 RBI
2016 Level/Roster Status: High-A/Double-A/Non-40
In a division like the AL East, it is easy to be envious of other teams with elite third basemen like Josh Donaldson and Manny Machado. Since 2013 first round pick Eric Jagielo was traded to the Reds, Miguel Andujar appears to be the most viable in-house long-term option for the Yankees at the hot corner.
Andujar signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2011 for $700,000. Keep in mind, he was 16 at the time. So while a signing bonus of that magnitude might not seem like much compared to domestic players selected in first round of the MLB Draft, the Yankees clearly thought highly of the third baseman.
The 21-year old started the season in High-A Tampa for the second straight year, after struggling in the Florida State League in 2015. Offensively, he did everything the Yankees could want him to do. In 58 games, he had a .283/.343/.474 slash line, in a year where he was still almost two years younger than the average FSL player. Perhaps even more impressive was the fact that he only struck out 12% of the time, a promising stat when combined with his increased power.
A solid isolated power of .191 along with a low strikeout rate is a sabermetrician’s dream for a young minor league prospect. However, Andujar went on to struggle at Double-A Trenton. In 72 games, he put up a .266/.323/.358 slash line with only two home runs. His power disappeared, but he maintained his ability to make contact, with a 13.2% strikeout rate.
Another downside to his 2016 campaign is that he did not steal bases as effectively as before. In 2015, he had 12 steals in 13 chances, compared to three swiped bags and four times caught stealing this year. Although, this could easily be attributed to Andujar bulking up in the offseason, which would also help explain his increased power numbers at High-A.
The next step for Andujar will be to consistently bring out his raw power in games at the Double-A level. At just 21 years old, he will be one of the younger players on the roster, so he has plenty of time to figure things out. Having 319 plate appearances in the Eastern League before turning 22 provides valuable experience for any prospect, so it will be interesting to see how he moves forward in 2017.
Chase Headley currently has two years left on his deal, which means Miguel Andujar’s rise to the big leagues could easily coincide with the end of Headley’s contract. A certain Maryland-based, A-Rod idolizing third baseman is also set to be a free agent after the 2018 season, but that doesn’t mean Miguel Andujar is undeserving of the increasing hype he is getting. Hopefully, he can build on his proven track record of adjusting to higher levels of pitching with time.
Data is courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball Reference.