Prospect Impression for March 31
Hey folks —
Sorry I haven’t been able to be as diligent in filling you in about prospects I’ve been seeing. But between the Reds coverage, finishing up the last couple of organization previews last week, the draft reports… and my kids coming to visit over the weekend, time has been at a premium.
But I wanted to jump on quickly and talk about someone I saw at the Yankees-Reds game today. It’s not often we can talk about a Yankees prospect, right? OK, that’s an unfair shot, but still…
Starting for the Yankees in this game, as he will on Opening Day, was Brett Gardner, who was named recently as the starter in center field over Melky Cabrera, had three hits in the game, though he was doubled off of first following the first one (not his fault, it was rocket line drive) and getting caught stealing after the second one. Overall, he’s had a terrific spring, hitting .390 in 59 at-bats. He’s stolen five bases and had a .446 OBP.
Those last two stats are what makes him interesting. His best tool is his speed, and it’s a plus. He’s stolen 153 bases in his Minor League career. Even better is that he seems to know what he’s doing as well, with just 31 caught stealing for an 83-percent success rate. Of course, having speed doesn’t help if you don’t get on base. Gardner seems to understand that. He’s hit a respectable .291 in the Minors, though batting average in the Minors for speed guys is always called into question (fair or not) because, especially at the lower levels, guys with Gardner’s kind of wheels can hit groundballs and leg them out consistently for hits.
But Gardner’s managed to continue hitting as he’s moved up the ladder, including a .296 mark last year in his first full season of Tripole-A last year. More importantly for his leadoff potential is his career .389 OBP. He may not hit for much, if any power, but he’ll use his speed on the bases and in center field whie trying to get on base as much as he can for the big boppers. He’s a fun guy to watch play because of his effort and his speed and you know he’s not going to get outworked. It should be fun to watch him patrol that new center field when they get going up there in the Bronx.