The march of the prospects continues for the Yankees as news broke last night that Aaron Judge, the Bombers' top power hitting prospect, has been promoted to Triple-A. When the Yankees drafted Judge out of Fresno State with the 32nd pick of the 2013 Draft, they thought they had drafted a guy who could move rather quickly through the system, and so far they seem to be right. Judge has flown through Charleston, Tampa and Trenton in less than a season and a half. After signing late in 2013, Judge never made an appearance due to a hamstring injury, but he wasted little time in making an impact on Charleston in 2014. In 65 games, the huge outfielder went .333/.428/.530 with nine homers. He was promoted to Tampa, where he continued to hit the ball hard. Judge wasn't done when the regular season ended, however, as the Yankees sent him to Scottsdale for the Arizona Fall League. The Yankees invited Judge to Spring Training and he had a strong start of 2015 with Trenton, hitting .284/.350/.516 with twelve homers, three triple, sixteen doubles and 44 RBIs.
If/when Judge gets called up to the majors, at 6'7 and 275 pounds he will be the biggest man to roam an MLB outfield. At this point, he is probably the top power prospect still in the minors, but there is more to his game than just his big swing. He is surprisingly fast for a guy his size, and while he isn't really a threat to steal bases (though he swiped his share of bags in college) he is a smart base runner who can pick up an extra base here and there. His speed plays particularly well in the outfield, where he is a solid defender with a very strong arm.
Of course, it is his bat that gets everyone excited - and why shouldn't it! This guy crushes the ball, especially if a pitcher makes a mistake and leaves the ball up in the zone. Judge's power is still pretty raw, as he really didn't seem to develop it much until his last year at Fresno State. He hit a combined six homers in his first two seasons, though he won the College Baseball Home Run Derby. He turned around and smacked twelve homers in his final year in college.
It's been a fun trip watching Judge rocket through the minors. He's just one step away from the big time now and it really wouldn't be shocking to see him hit his way to the Bronx before the year is out.