New York Yankees Analysis: Will Miguel Andujar struggle to make his mark in a short season?


The New York Yankees players reported yesterday to famed Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City for a baseball camp that starts tomorrow. The regular season will begin on July 23rd when new Yankee ace Gerrit Cole will face the World Champion Washington National’s ace Max Scherzer in the nation’s capital. Yankees slugger Miguel Andujar has no idea whether he will be playing in that game.

Miquel Enrique Andujar was born on March 2, 1995, in San Cristobal, the Dominican Republic. Not much is known about his parents as he lived his childhood with his Grandmother. He played baseball in the sandlots near his home. As a child, his baseball hero was Adrian Beltre, a fellow Dominican that was with the Texas Rangers. His other hobby as a kid was fishing.

Miggy didn’t finish high school where he was learning English, as, when playing baseball locally, he was seen by a Yankee scout that was impressed with his hitting. The New York Yankees signed Miggy to a minor league contract at the age of just 16 in 2011. After a short time at the Yankees training facility in Boca Chica, he was sent to Florida. In 2012 he made his professional debut with the Gulf Coast Yankees.

In 2014 Andujar was promoted to the Charleston River Dogs. In 2015 he played for the Tampa Yankees and then promoted to the Trenton Thunder in 2017. He ended his season with a .312 average, hitting 7 homers and batting in 52 in 67 games. But up at Scranton, Gleyber Torres suffered an injury, and Miggy was promoted to the Scranton Wilkes/Barre Rail Riders. After playing just seven games with the Rail Riders, he was called up to the Stadium to replace the injured Matt Holliday as DH. In his game, he went 3-4 with four RBIs and a walk, breaking the Yankees’ record for most RBIs in a player’s first game. So that he could continue to play daily at third base, he was sent back to the Rail Riders, where he had batted .317 with nine home runs and 30 RBIs in 58 games.

He began the 2018 season with the Rail Riders but was promoted to the Yankees on April 1, 2018. He hit his first major league home run on April 17. On April 23, Andújar hit a solo home run against the Minnesota Twins, marking his 7th consecutive game with an extra-base hit. On June 5, he hit his first major league Grand Slam. On September 29, Andujar hit his 45th double of the season, breaking the Yankees’ record for most doubles by a rookie, previously held by Joe DiMaggio.

He finished the season batting .297 with 47 doubles, 27 home runs and 92 RBI’s. Yankee fans were calling him a doubles machine. If it wasn’t for Aaron Judge’s 52 homers that season, he would have been the number one star of the team. But there was one glaring flaw. His defense of the hot corner at 3rd. He committed 15 errors, showing that he lacked range and an accurate throwing arm. That probably caused him to come in second for the rookie of the year award.

As the 2019 season started, on April 1, he injured his shoulder and was put on the 10 day IL. On April 30, he was sent to the Florida Tarpons to rehab, but on May 4th, reactivated, but he again injured the shoulder on the 13th. On the 21st, he was transferred from the 10 day to the 60 day IL due to a discovered torn Labrum, which caused him to have season-ending surgery.

He was reactivated on November 4, 2019. Now the question for the Yankees is what to do with him since while he was out, Gio Urshela became the Yankees man in the hot corner with his Gold Glove type play and above average hitting. GM Cashman, at the time, speaking to the subject, suggesting they may try him at first or in the outfield.

As spring training 1.0 progressed, and before the MLB imposed shutdown, the coaches tried Andujar mostly in the outfield, but he also got games at 1st and 3rd base.  But with an only two-week camp, he hardly had any time to solidify his abilities at any of those positions.

Fast forward to summer camp 2.0 at New York Yankee Stadium.  Manager Aaron Boone will continue to put Andujar in the outfield to give him the experience to fill in for either Giancarlo Stanton or the less likely need in the right field for Aaron Judge.  General Manager Brian Cashman and manager Boone have already said that they expect to use Stanton as the DH at least, at the beginning of the season.  With the recent positive developments with Judge, he will now likely start in right field.

Andujar took part in an intensive, three-day clinic in the postseason in Tampa designed to focus on defense. Ulises Cabrera of Octagon, who represents Andujar, employed Mariners first base/infield coach Perry Hill to work with Miggy. Hill has among the best reputations in the game when it comes to improving the defensive work of infielders, and Cabrera recognized questions linger about the fielding work of Andujar. Andujar worked exclusively at third base with Hill, but in gym sessions is beginning to work on items like footwork to better prepare for first base and the outfield if necessary. “Andujar is giving himself a shot by making himself as versatile as possible,” Cabrera said.

Wherever they place Andujar it will be interesting to see how this highly talented player adapts to the changes.  This writer feels with Andujar’s less than cat-like defensive abilities; he will see little time at 1st or 3rd.  It seems that the New York Yankees will want to keep his bat in the lineup, so it appears he will spend most of his time in the outfield or as DH.

In this shortened season, Miguel Andujar will have little time to make his mark.  If he doesn’t defend well in whatever position he is placed and doesn’t equal his 2018 hitting abilities, the Yankees will have to make a difficult decision with their talented player that once looked like the future of the Yankees.  Will they hold on to him or with all the bases covered, will the nine-year veteran be more valuable to the organization as a talented trade piece?