2014 Statistics: .259/.354/.460, 16 HR with High-A Tampa
2014 Level/Roster Status: High-A/Non 40-Man
When the Yankees drafted Eric Jagielo last summer the belief was that his polished college bat might be able to quickly move up through the system to provide the team with a third base option before too long. To match that belief, the Yankees aggressively started Jagielo off at High-A Tampa to start his 2014 season instead of having him start out at Low-A Charleston before working his way up. Jagielo managed to appear in only 85 games for the Tampa Yankees, missing a chunk of time with a muscle injury he suffered in the middle of an at-bat. The results were a bit mixed, but a solid season when he did play is reason to be optimistic.
In those 85 games with Tampa, Jagielo batted .259/.354/.460 with 16 home runs and 14 doubles. Although the batting average is lower than you'd like to see, and the 93 strikeouts are a few more than ideal, it's not really accurate to say that Jagielo's season was disappointing. Hopefully health is more on his side in 2015, of course, but the power was at the very least encouraging. It's concerning that scouts believe that Jagielo might not be able to stick as a third baseman considering the team's great need for a replacement for Alex Rodriguez in New York pretty much immediately. Whether those slightly unfavorable reports continue or not remains to be seen, but it's possible that working with professional infield coaches can help Jagielo overcome the holes in his game that stop scouts from buying in 100%.
The Yankees could very well keep with their aggressive approach with Jagielo by starting him off at Double-A Trenton to begin next season, but it wouldn't be shocking for them to tap the breaks a bit after he was only able to play in 85 games a year ago. Jagielo suffered a facial fracture that needed surgery early this offseason, meaning he won't have as much time to prepare for the year as the team may have hoped. Still, he should be ready to go in time for spring training. Improved defensive play and cutting down on some of the whiffs should go a long way to improving Jagielo's stock as he inches toward the upper levels of the minors. He should undoubtedly see time at Trenton next season, putting him not that far off from a chance to play in the Bronx if everything breaks the right way. Hopefully the Yankees' aggressiveness with him will be rewarded with a strong, healthy season next year.