With Spring Training being upon, Bleeding Yankee Blue is continuing this series, highlighting the kids that are vying for a coveted spot on the major league roster. We are going over their respective backgrounds – how they have been playing, their strengths, their weaknesses, and what to look for.
Greg Bird is a 22-year old first baseman, drafted by the Yankees in the 5th round (179th overall) of the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft. The Yankees drafted him out of high school, and he spent the last 4 years in various levels of minor league ball. He is known primarily for his power left-handed bat, more so than his glove. He is very likely on the Yankees’ 2016 plan, but he will likely get some looks in Spring Training this year.
Bird has risen through the ranks, starting in the Gulf Coast League, making it to the AA Trenton Thunder in 2014. He has consistently demonstrated a strong power bat and a sharp eye at the plate. In 2013 he had a breakout year, hitting 20 homers in 130 games, at the rate of 22.9 AB’s per HR. He continued his pace in 2014, and put up a .937 OPS with Trenton. At the same time, he walked enough to have an OBP 140 points above his batting average.
He still has a few things to work on. The first and foremost is his strikeouts. He spent all of 2013 with the Charleston RiverDogs, where he got his 20 home runs. That same year, he struck out 132 times in 573 plate appearances. That would come out to about 164 strikeouts over the course of a 162-game season. It is not good. His fielding is considered between average and above average, with a .988 career fielding percentage at first base. He doesn’t have much speed, which will affect his fielding range.
This spring, the Yankees will be looking at two things. First, they will want to see if Bird can maintain his power streak. Look for him to drive the ball with authority, as well as his ability to work walks. They will also look for him to get his strikeouts down. If he starts swinging through pitches, it may not end well. Again, he is likely on the Yankees’ 2016 plans, so he will probably start in Trenton with a probable promotion to Scranton midseason. The earliest we will see him in the Bronx is perhaps as a September call-up. Either way, we are excited at Greg Bird’s future, and wish him all the luck in the world.
--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Senior Staff Writer
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