The New York Yankees are promoting first base prospect Greg Bird from Triple-A Scranton to the major league roster. Here's a quick take on his background and what to expect.
Bird was drafted by the Yankees in the fifth round in 2011 from high school in Aurora, Colorado. His draft position was deceptive: some observers felt he had a first-round bat but defensive questions and a University of Arkansas scholarship kept him from going that early. It cost the Yankees $1,100,000 to sign him, well over slot for the fifth round.
His trek through the New York farm system has been steady and productive. He broke out in 2013 by hitting .288/.428/.511 for Charleston in the Low-A South Atlantic League, with 36 doubles, 20 homers, and 107 walks in 458 at-bats. He remained effective in 2014 with a combined .271/.376/.472 slash line with 14 homers and 63 walks in 102 games between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton.
He opened 2015 with Trenton and hit .258/.358/.445 in 182 at-bats. Promoted to Scranton in the International League, he got hot with a .301/.353/.500 line through 34 contests, 136 at-bats.
Bird is a 6-3, 220 pound left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower, born November 9, 1992. He features above-average power from the left side and pulls the ball frequently, but his eye for the strike zone is reliable and unlike many young sluggers he doesn't lunge at unhittable pitches, at least not very often; his whiff rates are quite reasonable for a slugger. A catcher in high school (he caught Kevin Gausman, a teammate), he has a decent arm and has developed into a very good defender at first base despite lacking premium speed or mobility.
Although not likely a .300 hitter at the highest level, Bird projects as a regular first baseman with above-average power and a solid OBP, perhaps similar as a hitter to pre-collapse Nick Swisher circa 2010-2012.