While the Yankees were busy rebuilding, the major league team turned into a legitimate contender and nearly made the World Series. On the way, Brian Cashman made a few trades that emptied the farm system, but the good thing is that there is still plenty of talent left. When we talk about third base prospects, the conversation begins and ends with Miguel Andujar.
Signed out of the Dominican Republic before the 2012 season, Andujar quickly gained a reputation as a power bat at the hot corner. In his first few years of professional ball, he showed potential but could never put it all together over an entire season. He would get off to a slow start before getting hot in the second half of the year in order to finish strongly. Since 2016, he has shaken off this stigma and now puts together a full season of offense.
In 2017, Andujar took a huge step forward by hitting and impressive .315/.352/.498 with 16 home runs over the course of a full season between Double-A and Triple-A. He didn’t need time to adjust to new pitching, like we’ve seen in the past, and he continued strong throughout the season. He was rewarded with a handful of games in the majors, where he collected four hits—two were doubles—and a walk in just eight plate appearances.
At this moment, Andujar ranks as the no. 5 prospects in the Yankees system, but what does that really mean for him? He’s never been considered a defensive wiz at third base, but given his ability to stay at the position all these years, he has clearly improved on that side of the ball. It’s hard to gauge how good Andujar will ultimately be, but it’s a safe bet that he could end up as a valuable right-handed bat in the near future.
Next year will be his age-23 season, and he’s more than proven he can hit minor league pitching. It would seem that Andujar has an opening pretty soon, with Todd Frazier now gone and Chase Headley out after 2018, but it’s not always that simple. The Yankees have Gleyber Torres, who could either move to third or push Starlin Castro over to the hot corner. The existence of Ronald Torreyes also makes it hard to imagine the team using a kid who can only play third off the bench next year. Then when you add the fact that Manny Machado will be on the market soon, it feels like Andujar could be squeezed out before he even gets a chance.
The good news is that we can certainly expect to see Miguel Andujar get another shot in the majors next year. Injuries will happen, and right-handed power bats are valuable. The Yankees don’t currently have a full-time designated hitter now that Matt Holliday is gone, so it’s always possible he could fit in there.
It’s easy to say that Andujar is the future at third base, but he’s likely not. This is not necessarily an indictment against him, but a testament to the better talent around him. Before we can definitely say what his future holds, we’re going to need to see what he can do at the major league level, because he could certainly surprise everyone. What would not be surprising, though, would be to see him used as a valuable trade piece down the line.