Not only is Aaron Judge one of the biggest prospects in the Yankees minor league system; he is also one of the biggest players in professional baseball. Standing at 6’7’’ and tipping the scale at 275 pounds, one might think Judge would be in football pads protecting a quarterback instead of tracking down fly balls in the outfield and hitting tape measure home runs. But Judge has yet to make it to Yankee Stadium, and will most likely start in AAA for the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Rail Riders next year, where he finished up his 2015 season. Should the Yankees start him in the minors, or should he be on the Opening Day roster? The team was, after all, unwilling to include him in any trade this summer. It’s clear the front office sees some future for him in New York.
Judge is a career .281 hitter in the minor leagues, belting 37 home runs and driving in 150 runs during his two-year career. Judge has quickly risen through the ranks, starting his career in Single-A in 2014, and reaching AAA halfway through the 2015 season. His production dropped significantly after he was promoted to AAA last year, only hitting .224 with eight homers and driving in 28 runs during 61 games. With the obvious increase in talent level from AA to AAA, Judge saw his struggles, and it raised concern throughout the organization. These career low numbers raised the thought of leaving Judge in the minors for another year to try and develop him a little more so he can blossom into the next great Yankee outfielder.
Another concern for Judge is his high strikeout rate. In 945 career at-bats, Judge has struck out 275 times, compared to his 266 hits. Judge has drawn comparisons to Giancarlo Stanton, due to not only his size, but his hitting ability and style. While Stanton has been in the major leagues since he was 20, he has had more time to develop than Judge has. Stanton’s high strikeout rate has been an issue, and many people think Judge can go down the same route, which honestly would be fine. If Judge turns out to be half the player that Stanton is, then he will see success for many years in pinstripes.
Not many people think that starting Aaron Judge in the major leagues would be a good idea. They believe that letting him develop and start in the minor leagues would be more beneficial than being a backup for the numerous, established veterans currently in pinstripes. With Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran looking like the starting alignment for 2016, Judge would be able to learn a lot from these veterans, as well as seeing some time during spot starts and pinch hits here and there.
Having Aaron Judge on the 2016 Opening Day roster would be in the Yankees best interest. Letting him stay in the minor leagues could hurt the 23-year-old’s development, as well as set him back. Letting him see major league action, as well as learning from the numerous veterans on the roster, would be the best option if the Yankees want to see Judge as an everyday outfielder in the near future. Aaron Judge has the size and strength to be one of the best outfielders in the game. He can change the Yankees lineup, and become a real force at the plate. The Yankees have a tough decision to make next season, and hopefully they make the right one to develop him and make him the best player he can be.