Our next prospect that we will visit really opened some eyes in the New York Yankees organization last year. That prospect would be powerful first baseman Chris Gittens. Gittens is one of the more seasoned prospects in the New York Yankees farm system having been drafted in the 12th round back in the 2014 draft. Gittens has had an up and down career with the Yankees organization and has had to battle through injuries along the way. Gittens was battling hip issues which limited him to only 57 games in 2018. However, Gittens bounced back in a major way in 2019 after only hitting .193 in 2018. Gittens bounced back to not only be named Trenton Thunder player of the year, but also the Eastern League Most Valuable Player. A lot of people were concerned that he would be plucked in the Rule 5 draft, but Gittens remains with the Yankees and could force his way up towards the MLB level sooner than later.
As mentioned, 2019 was a monster year for the big first baseman. Gittens, who stands 6’4 and weighs 250 pounds, just destroyed the ball last year in his 115 games with the Trenton Thunder. In those games, Gittens hit .281 with 23 home runs and 77 RBIs. Everyone last year was talking about how the baseballs were juiced, but let’s be clear, they were not juiced in the minors. Gittens also hits in a pitchers ballpark which really makes his power numbers even more impressive. Like most power guys, Gittens does strike out at a pretty high clip striking out 139 times in 398 at-bats, but his power and eye make up the difference. Last year he had an OBP of .393 and Gittens showed much-improved skills on the defensive side of the ball. When Gittens swings the bat, fans in the ballpark will stop and watch. When he connects on one, they can fly out of the ballpark in a hurry. When minor league baseball resumes, Gittens is a prospect that will make Yankee fans watch some AAA games.
Forcing the Issue
Gittens has shown incredible potential when it comes to hitting, but his fielding does leave a lot to be desired. Many folks believe that Gittens will be a DH long term, but his work ethic and improved defense from last year shows he has the ability to at least play the position. I think he will breakthrough as a first baseman, but will spend half if not the majority of the time just focusing on hitting the ball. When it comes to his hitting, there are not a lot of things that people can say negatively. Sure he strikes out, but so does Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. At the end of the day, this guy can flat out smoke the ball, and he could be a player that will turn some heads whenever the next minor league season rolls around.