Twitter’s Favorite Prospect: Miguel Andújar

Mr. Boomstick himself, Twitter’s favorite prospect, Miguel Andooooojar! You have to make sure to stress that syllable correctly. My years of high school Spanish taught me the “jar” should be stressed, but since the “u” has an accent mark, the second syllable is stressed. Can we please get that right? As an adult man who has a strangely high affinity for this 23-year-old prospect, I would appreciate it.

This guy has almost reached legend status, especially on Twitter. After signing Andújar as an international free agent in 2011, he rose to become one of the top prospects in the Yankees’ system. The real excitement started in 2016 when the Youth Revolution began. It amplified in 2017 when Andújar was called up to fill in for Matt Holliday, who had gone on the DL, against the White Sox. In his debut, Andújar went 3 for 4 with 4 RBIs and a walk, breaking the Yankees’ record for most RBIs in a player’s debut. I was actually at the game, and it definitely spurred my fandom.

 

I also have cool stories about Aaron Judge’s sunflower seeds, Tyler Wade having a Gatorade cup stuck to his cleat, and Didi Gregorius’s Instagram account from this game. Follow me on Twitter and I’ll tell you all about it.

After Andújar’s debut, even a casual fan could tell he had talent with the stick, but the dark cloud over the Dominican thus far has been his defense. This spring, however, he played a really good third base and did not make his first MLB regular season error until the other day. Not to beat a man while he’s down, but Brandon Drury has 3 errors thus far. So…

In all seriousness, Andújar’s defense does need some work. He has seemed unsure of himself on some backhands that were not technically errors but plays a better third baseman could have confidently made. Additionally, his throwing mechanics seem loose. The arm is there, but he has a tendency to open his front shoulder early, causing the ball to “float” to first base. Keep an eye on it next game. When he keeps his shoulders square, it is as good of an arm as any, and if he puts up the offensive numbers scouts think he is capable of, I think us fans will tolerate a couple errors each season.

Now, for the good stuff.

The best way I can describe his swing is “violent.” He’s got a hack that would make Paul Bunyan proud. Like most young Dominican players, Andújar can torch hard, straight pitches; “straight” being the optimal phrase. In the words of Jake Storiale, using someone else’s words, “You don’t walk your way off the island.” And that is by no means a knock on the hitting style of players from that country. It obviously works.

As far as Andújar goes, he has a “handsy” style of hitting, with a few caveats. Usually, handsy hitters are guys like Deter Jeter who have insane forearm and wrist control. Andújar, on the other hand, has incredible wrist control, coupled with the bat speed of traditional power hitters which is usually derived from hip torque. Watching this, clip of Andújar taking batting practice, you can see how he throws his hands at the ball with a lot of whip. You’ll also notice he leaks forward, which effectively makes him lose power from his lower half. Contrast this with Greg Bird’s swing, who is a more traditional power hitter. Bird uses torque from his lower half to explode the barrel to the ball. Both Bird and Andujar have the potential for 25+ home runs each season, but they approach hitting differently, and that’s OK. (Here is Derek Jeter taking batting practice. Notice how his swing is more akin to Andújar).

Hands hitters vs Body hitters broken down by Paul O’Neill

 

The negatives with Andújar’s swing and approach are curious. This season, both regular season and spring training, Yankees fans have noticed that Andújar does not do well against breaking pitches. In spring training, this could be explained by him sitting on fastballs, wanting to showcase his potential power – which he did during the first half of spring training.

Since he was called up this year, Andújar has not performed up to the standards of his Twitter army. Of the 28 balls he has put in play, only three have been categorized as line drives according to fangraphs.com. We have seen him attacking early in counts, but since he leaks forward so much, his barrel is often compromised through the zone on breaking balls which forces him to make VERY last second adjustments with his wrists. If you thought I was insane earlier when I compared his swing to Jeter’s, you were correct. The difference between the two, amongst a billion other things, is that Jeter had better timing and bat control than Andujar. So, if Jeter were to be “fooled,” he had a much better ability to adjust on the fly than Andujar.

A seemingly easy fix would be to tell him to not swing like he’s trying to hit the ball to the Bronx Zoo every time. However, the ferociousness with which he swings is not the problem: it’s when he swings. Like I said before, he is attacking early in counts. This actually is not what he has historically done, especially the last few years. He has been working on his patience in the minors (increased walk rates), and scouts have noted this as well as his above average pitch recognition (decreased strikeout rates). It might seem like an easy cop-out for me, but with such a small sample size at the MLB level, I have to chalk this up to him just being antsy. It wouldn’t be the first time a player changed his approach from one level of baseball to another.

With all this being said, I want to fans to know if he sticks to his historic approach at the plate, this dude can be the real deal. I won’t opine on future roster moves, but if Miguel Andújar sticks around, we should be very happy. Finally, to all his crazies on Twitter, settle down. And to those of you who seem to be anti-Andújar because of those crazies, stop being jerks. You’re hurting Miguel’s and my feelings.

 

Twitter: @RobRosene

**Stats from fangraphs.com and Baseball Reference