Bobby Mitchell described Brandon Drury perfectly.
The third baseman is a “big leaguer” who just happens to play for the RailRiders. And Drury’s season has backed up the RailRiders manager’s description up.
The 25-year-old has been on base in 36 of the 37 games he’s played for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, heading into Saturday night’s tilt in Syracuse. His .344 batting average, paired with a triple, three home runs and 20 RBI, is good enough to place him fifth in the recent update of fan voting for the International League All-Star team.
Batting in the three hole for the RailRiders on a daily basis, he’s exactly what this team has needed to turn things around, helping the squad win six of their last eight games.
“He’s a big leaguer, you know? Just happens to be with us,” Mitchell said. “He can play for a lot of teams, obviously, and even ours if they needed him.
“He had a little setback with the issue he had and now he’s come right through it. He’s getting treatment with it and it’s really helping and he said he’s the best he’s felt in a long time.”
Drury had been dealing with severe migranes and blurred vision due to an irriated tendon in his neck that put him on the disabled list early in the season.
Drury concurred with Mitchell. He’s feeling “really good.”
While he wouldn’t say whether or not his vision is still blurry, he did divulge that he’s no longer wearing the night-time goggles, which he used briefly a couple homestands ago, and his visits to the doctor for treatment are far less frequent these days.
“I feel good, ready to go,” Drury said. “I haven’t really been getting too much treatment. We thought it was smart since I’ve been feeling a lot better, to keep it rolling.”
But despite his red-hot play, Drury still believes there’s more room left in the tank.
Drury’s season-low in the minor leagues for doubles during the last few seasons has been 40, which was his mark in 130 games in 2015. The third baseman currently has 10.
At the same time, his strikeout rate is slightly higher than his career average this season. He’s struck out 45 times, through all levels, while his career-high, which is from 2017, is 103.
“I’m taking every at-bat with the intent to drive the ball and have a good at-bat,” Drury said. “I’ve been feeling pretty good. I still feel like I have room for improvement as far as certain types of numbers getting better, but I feel solid and I feel like I’ve been having good at-bats helping the team.”
However, Drury may have just added an ace up his sleeve.
He played first base for the first time since 2016 in the nightcap of Tuesday’s game against Rochester. It was just the second time Drury played the position since his Single-A days in 2012.
Mitchell did pump the brakes after the game, however, clarifying that it’s “something we’re going to try to do periodically to get him some work over there in case (the Yankees) need him in an emergency or something.”
“He’s an athlete, though,” Mitchell said. “There’s some little things he needs to probably work on and learn, but fielding the ball and doing the other stuff, it’s almost like playing third, really, with no throws.
“I’d worry if he wasn’t that athletic because he hasn’t played there in so long, but he seemed really comfortable. He seemed really comfortable over there tonight, which is a credit to him, really — his confidence.”
That confidence has been one of the things about Drury that has impressed the RailRiders manager the most.
After playing in at least 130 games each of the last two seasons for the Arizona Diamondbacks, including 20 games in 2015, and to get relegated to Triple-A due to the hot play of Miguel Andujar while he was on the disable list, Drury has put aside the outside noise and continued to play well.
Mitchell even went so far as to describe Drury’s play as “inspirational.”
“It says a lot about his character as a person, his perseverance as a player, his ability to put that aside and still have, obviously, disappointment, but still have the focus on being a big leaguer here so he can go up and help us or help somebody else, maybe,” Mitchell said. “He’s definitely a big asset for our organization, for sure. He’s shown some leadership here. To go out there and play as hard as he does is inspirational to everybody.”
At the end of the day, Drury wants to be with the New York Yankees. And every day that desire to get back to New York drives him to get better.
Deep down, he knows he can help improve the contending Yankees and that wearing pinstripes is where he belongs.
“I’m hungry. I’m on a mission to get back and go tear it up and help the team win a World Series,” Drury said. “Just knowing what I can do and how much I can help the team is just driving me, and I really want to go do it.”
Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle