MOOSIC — The New York Yankees’ organizational depth was built for moments like these.
After losing top prospect Gleyber Torres to Tommy John surgery this past week, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders had to look elsewhere to fill the everyday reps at third base. Torres played nine games at the hot corner during his 23-game stint with the RailRiders. The exact same number of games he played at his natural shortstop position.
In steps Miguel Andujar.
“I think I said when the season started that the Yankees were in good position with all these kids coming up together,” RailRiders manager Al Pedrique said. “A lot of talent. All will get a chance to play in the major leagues some time soon. Losing Torres hurts. Getting Andujar, we’re happy because this kid is getting the chance to move up the ladder quicker. This kid has a lot of talent.”
The 22-year-old has a workman-like approach to everything he does, whether it’s his early work in the batting cages or the games themselves.
Through four contests heading into the weekend, Andujar has a .429 batting average with a double, walk and four runs scored.
“(I’m) feeling good. Just doing (my) best every single day and enjoying (my) time here,” Andujar said through a translator. “(I’m) just sticking to the same approach, the same plan. Really not trying to change anything. Just looking for my pitch.”
Often when positional players make the jump from Double-A to Triple-A there’s an adjustment period. But that hasn’t been the case for Andujar.
While the third baseman is still waiting to knock in his first run with the RailRiders, he’s arguably been just as effective at the plate in Triple-A as he was with Trenton, where he had a .312 batting average, seven home runs and a Eastern League-leading 52 RBI.
“The game doesn’t look to fast for him here at all,” RailRiders hitting coach P.J. Pilittere said. “He’s swinging at good pitches, he’s getting himself in good counts and he’s doing what we know he’s capable of so far. It’s good to see him hit the ground running.”
The biggest hole in Andujar’s game has been his fielding.
He committed 10 errors with the Thunder this season, and has committed 109 in 488 career minor league games. However, Pedrique hasn’t seen any problems in the field from the Yankees No. 12 prospect thus far.
In fact, with Andujar getting a rest day on Friday, Pedrique wanted to test him during batting practice and had him take ground balls at first base. He impressed.
“He still has work to do, but the physical tools are interesting,” Pedrique said. “This is a strong kid. Moves well for his size and his footwork so far has been great. His throwing accuracy, that’s one thing that we’re working with him to be consistent, cut down his throwing errors. I know last year he had a few, and in Double-A also, but so far we’re pleased about how he’s going about his business.”
Offensively, the 6-foot, 215-pounder has continued to impress Pilittere, who was Andujar’s hitting coach last year in Double-A.
Pilittere described Andujar as a hitter with “a really good set of hands and a really quick bat.” While the power hasn’t been there yet for Andujar, he knows it’s coming.
“You can’t throw the ball hard enough for him. Really hits the fastball well,” Pilittere said. “He’s gotten better throughout last season in Double-A and through the first half of the season this year in Double-A of recognizing pitches that are out of the strike zone and laying off some tough stuff. He has the ability to make adjustments and he can use the whole field as well. He’s pretty dynamic.”
Finally reaching the Triple-A level, Andujar has kept a level head throughout the process, continuing to do exactly what got him to this level in the first place because he knows that one day that phone call will come.
“(I’m) just trying to prepare every single day so when that moment comes (I’m) ready,” Andujar said.
Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle