Aaron Judge joined a fraternity of players to hit home runs in their first big league at bat on Saturday night. That fraternity includes some notable players such as Jason Heyward and his teammate Starlin Castro. But seeing as Judge followed it up with another home run on Sunday, he’s quickly showing that he’s here to stay, in the Bronx.
Just how good can Aaron Judge be? Well obviously that’s impossible to say for even the most apt of scouts. What we do know is that he does have the potential to be the next great Yankees star.
The 6’7”, 255 lbs right fielder drew comparisons to Giancarlo Stanton all throughout his minor league upbringing, and given that his home park is now the incredibly hitter friendly Yankee stadium, that’s a scary thought to consider.
In his minor league time, he showed that he’s not just a slugger who can make contact on a home run every now and then. He hit .270 while also posting a .366 OBP in 352 at bats at AAA Scranton-Wilksbarre. It looks as though Judge will roam right field for a long time to come in the Bronx.
There is the question, though, of how he will fare long term against Major League pitching, as four Major League at bats are far from telling.
The biggest concern for Judge will be how he will handle off-speed pitching when big league pitchers adjust to him. That’s been the fall of many power hitting prospects before him.
Just like anyone, Judge’s ability to make adjustments will determine how good of a Major League hitter he will be. Lots of players built like him have struggled to do so. Take Billy Hamilton as another example of a player that was able to reach the Majors based on his physical tools. Once he reached the big leagues, he was able to reach base well enough to reap havoc on the base paths. But as Major League pitchers have adjusted to Hamilton, he’s struggled to find ways to get on base enough for his speed to make a difference.
Jeff Francoure was another hitter who looked similar to Aaron Judge. The 6’4” right fielder reached the Majors in 2005, and exploded onto the scene with a home run in his first game at Turner Field. He followed that up hitting 29 home runs in 2006. Francoure looked like a star in the making for the Braves. Unfortunately, major league pitchers were able to find a hole in Francoure’s approach, that kept him from hitting offspeed breaking pitches. Less than two years later, Francoure found himself as a bench player and a specialist to hit left handed pitching.
No one’s suggesting that Aaron Judge is the same as either of these two players, as Judge’s physical tools outweigh both Hamilton’s and Francoure’s, and even if Judge struggles at times to keep his average on pace, he still has the raw power to connect on 30 bad pitches a year for home runs.
But his ability to make adjustments at the plate will determine if he’s a bona fide superstar or a specialist in the big leagues long term. It’s easy to say, though, that the career of Aaron Judge will be fun to watch.