Earlier today, it was announced by the New York Yankees, that one of their top prospects would be getting promoted to the big club. No, not the 6’7″, 275 lb. outfielder Aaron Judge. That day will come, perhaps before the end of this season. No, the promotion of the next Yankees’ prospect is first baseman Greg Bird.
But why would the Yankees bring up their top first base prospect when Mark Teixeira is having one of the best seasons of his career? It’s simply, Bird can flat out rake, and at the present time, runs have been scarce for the Bronx Bombers. So much so, that going into play tonight against Cleveland, the Yankees will be looking at a one-game deficit to the surging Blue Jays in the AL East. In 150 plate appearances since being promoted to Triple-A Scranton, Bird is hitting .301 with six bombs and 23 runs batted in.
How good can Bird be? Last fall in the Arizona Fall League, he hit a ball more than 450 feet, and was eventually named the AFL’s MVP. Bird is an on-base machine, tallying 107 walks a couple of seasons ago, and in the process, being named the Yankees Minor League Player of the Year.
This is not only an audition, but a look into the future, and that future could be starting now. Along with fellow top prospect Luis Severino, who has looked solid in two big league starts, it’s now or never for the Yankees. It’s a rarity that top prospects ever see the Bronx, let alone be expected to contribute in the middle of a pennant race. In the past, these prospects would be flipped for proven big league stars, or summertime rentals.
This is the new approach to Yankees’ baseball. This is the reason that guys like Troy Tulowitzki, David Price, and Cole Hamels were dealt elsewhere. Brian Cashman has complete faith in the revamped minor league system his franchise has built over the past few years, and with patience, and not crumbling under the pressure cooker that is New York City to make the sexy, bold move, we are about to see what that patience is worth starting tonight. Greg Bird gives the Yankees roster flexibility, he gives them length, and he gives the team another solid eye at the plate, because lord knows they’ve been struggling for the past ten games or so.
Is Greg Bird the next Mickey Mantle at the plate? Doubtful. The late Mantle, who passed away 20 years ago today, was a once in a century talent, and the Yankees had plenty of that all crammed into one century’s worth of talent, but with a guy that was originally drafted as a catcher, moved to first base, and honed his hitting skills through the various levels of the Yankees’ minor league system, a career OPS of .878, and the youthful energy that comes with being promoted, fans and opponents alike should get used to hearing the name Greg Bird, because in all likelihood, he like Severino, aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon. The next generation has been coming, and tonight, the next piece arrives.