Aaron Judge Scouting Report (2014)
Standing 6-foot-7, 230 pounds, Aaron Judge has drawn physical comparisons to Marlins superstar Giancarlo Stanton. Taken with the 32nd pick in the 2013 draft, the right fielder signed an over slot deal, but did not play in any games due to a quad injury. Regardless, draft slot and excitement over his immense size led to his being named the sixth best prospect in the New York Yankees organization. Is the hype warranted? Or is the right-handed hitter little more than a one tool (power) wonder?
Having discussed Judge’s physical stature, does the right-handed hitter have the athleticism to carry the frame? After a three game look and batting practice session, Aaron Judge presented as lumbering and lacking fluid baseball movements. An overall lack of agility permeated his all-around game, forcing questions about how he’d adjust to more advanced pitching. Being 22 and feasting on a league for teenage prospects (.311/.404/.468) is more beginner’s course than test of his true talent level.
In batting practice, Judge displayed poor power for his size. Beyond his lone home run, the ball left his bat with a thud, not a crack. Aaron Judge needed every bit of his gigantic frame to generate power given his messy hitting mechanics and stop-and-start timing mechanism. For 10 plate appearances, Judge swung and missed often. When he did make contact, the result was a poorly hit ball and easy out.
Late in game three of the series, collecting evidence to support a dreadful scouting report on Aaron Judge was the primary motivation for being diligent. Expecting little, the video camera was set up behind the Charleston RiverDogs’ dugout for an open side view of the first round pick. Then, a letter high fastball resulted in HD video gold — a towering home run off of Judge’s bat which cleared the scoreboard of the Rome Braves’ home park. It was a glimpse of his power potential and reason for optimism.
A closer look at Aaron Judge’s hitting mechanics points to a prospect whose bat head is quick through the strike zone. This is overshadowed by a messy set up where his pre-swing load is more concert violinist than baseball player. Starting his hands just off the ears forces Judge to bring them back in accentuated fashion, causing extreme bat wrap. Lacking rhythm, his two-part swing saps natural power and is a primary cause for Aaron Judge’s low power output.
Given these deficiencies, his 21.1% strikeout rate is a positive sign as his poor timing will cause fits against so-so breaking stuff. An advanced batting eye for the level of competition also helps with identifying quality pitches to hit. Judge is far from a “grip it and rip it” hitter.
On defense, Judge drifted to balls in the outfield. Overall, his play was clumsy and off-balanced. This caused his arm to play down in game action even though present arm strength is above average. For Aaron Judge to be successful, the bat is his calling card.
After swiping 35 bases in his college career, Judge has one in 2014. It’s not a part of his present or future all-around game and he’ll need to maintain agility to avoid becoming a base clogger.
Instead of Giancarlo Stanton, a more apt player comparison for Aaron Judge is Kyle Blanks. At first blush, this is damning, but the prospect community quickly forgets Blanks was once a top prospect derailed by injuries. Over his Major League career, the Athletics 1B/OF has been a touch above average offensively and performs well in spurts. Comparing Judge to Stanton is unfair to both players as the Marlins superstar is a freakish athlete for his size. Few people realize this given his frame and lack of speed, but no prospect has been as impressive in person from a physical standpoint.
Tool Present Future Projected Role Bench/Quad-A outfielder in the mold of Kyle Blanks Hitting Ability 30 40 Power 30 55 Speed 35 25 Fielding Ability 40 35 Arm 50 55
Owing Aaron Judge
As a college first round pick, fantasy owners who invested in Aaron Judge are no doubt looking for a quick return on investment. They’ll be disappointed as the New York outfielder is a major project. He’s a lottery ticket and needs to be treated as such. Given Judge’s hot start and Yankees pedigree, an owner may look to sell high before the bottom falls out. Without a major swing overhaul, he’ll stumble against more advanced pitching and fail to meet his ceiling. Aaron Judge is a high risk player — maybe higher than any college first round pick I’ve ever scouted.
2 Jun 2014 / Mike Newman /
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