(Miguel Andujar had the best season of his young career in 2016. Now with his stock seemingly the highest it’s been, can he duplicate that success at the highest minor league levels and put himself in position for a call to The Show in 2017? Photo courtesy of the Charleston RiverDogs)
Let’s get right into it and continue our countdown of the top 15 prospects who could help the Yankees this season with No. 13, Miguel Andujar.
Position: Third base
Weight: 175 pounds
40-man roster: Yes
Andujar began 2016 at High-A Tampa where he played all of 2015 and it couldn’t have gone much better. In just 58 games with the T-Yanks, Andujar batted .283, blasted 10 homers, drove in 41 runs, had an .817 OPS and only struck out 30 times. Think about this when it comes to those 10 home runs. That was the same number he hit when he played 127 games at Low-A Charleston in 2014 and was two more than he hit in 2015 when he played 130 games at Tampa. Eight of those home runs and 35 RBIs last year at Tampa came against right-handers, who Andujar hit .312 against.
That start earned him a mid-June promotion to Double-A Trenton where he went 2 for 5 with two runs, a double and an RBI in his debut. Although he only homered two more times, Andujar appeared to pick up right where left off at Tampa, hitting .407 with 14 RBIs and a .926 OPS in 16 games. However, he cooled off in July and hit just .194 with four extra-base hits in 25 games. Still, he managed to finish with a respectable .266 average, 20 extra base-hits (16 doubles) and 42 RBIs in 72 games with the Thunder.
The Yankees then sent Andujar to the Arizona Fall League where was named to its All-Prospect Team as the designated hitter and played in the Fall Stars Game. He batted .284, which included a .409 average against lefties, scored 10 runs and had four extra-base hits and five RBIs in 19 games with the Scottsdale Scorpions.
Andujar’s raw power makes him a threat at the plate every time he steps into the box. His quick bat allows for consistent hard contact to generate that power, especially against righties. Andujar has an aggressive approach and while he sometimes swings at pitches he’d be better off letting go, he’s not going to take himself out of at-bats. Last season, he only struck out 72 times, which was the lowest of his career not including Rookie-level ball in the 2012-13 seasons.
While he has the ability to be a guy who can hit 20+ homers in a season, Andujar’s biggest tools are in the field, especially his arm strength. He’s got good hands and solid range to be an everyday third baseman but he must improve his fielding consistency. He has 99 career errors — 74 excluding Rookie ball — and a .911 fielding percentage in five years.
Below are highlights and analysis of Andujar courtesy of the Yankees’ in-house video production team when it took a trip out to Trenton last summer. Included is insight from P.J. Pilittere, who was Andujar’s hitting coach last season and in Rookie ball in 2012 and will work in the same position for the RailRiders this season.
Here’s more highlights from Andujar’s time in the Arizona Fall League with analysis from teammates Tyler Wade, James Kaprielian and Greg Bird among others.
And here’s Andujar quickly turning on a pitch left over the plate and blasting a two-run homer against the Phillies last spring.
Andujar was never going to make the Yankees’ Opening Day roster but that didn’t stop him from having an impressive camp. He hit .304 (7 for 23) with two RBIs, two doubles, one triple and four runs scored in 13 games before getting optioned to Double-A Trenton and re-assigned to minor league camp last week.
While the option doesn’t necessarily guarantee he’ll be there, I presume Andujar will begin this season at Trenton but he won’t finish there. I could see a similar situation like last year where Andujar has a strong first month or two and joins the RailRiders by mid-June. Regardless of where he’s at in the minors, he’s going to be an everyday player.
When he does join the RailRiders, a key for Andujar will be to not press. Andujar hasn’t been the prospect that fans rave about and that isn’t the case this year. Still, his stock arguably is the highest its been since he signed in 2012. Earlier this spring, manager Joe Girardi told reporters that the Yankees like Andujar “an awful lot.”
Despite Andujar’s hype, Chase Headley‘s job in the Bronx isn’t in jeopardy. But if Andujar has another big season, especially when he gets to Triple-A, he could force the Yankees to make some tough decisions. Regardless, it helps that the Yankees added Andujar to the 40-man roster so a September call-up would seem likely at the very least.