Brandon Lockridge of the Somerset Patriots.

Brandon Lockridge of the Somerset Patriots. Credit: Somerset Patriots

For Yankees prospect Brandon Lockridge, tapping into one of his several tools — his speed — has helped transform his baseball journey.

Lockridge was a second baseman at Troy University in 2017, but he and his coaches decided the following year that it was time to put his speed to better use.

"I played my first two years at second base," Lockridge told Newsday in a phone interview on Thursday. "Then my junior year I moved to outfield just to utilize that speed more with the greater range to cover. So I think that helps me stick in the centerfield position, as opposed to being a corner guy. It’s something I want to keep in mind and utilize, whether it’s on the bases, defense, hitting, everything. I feel like it’s beneficial."

After flourishing in the outfield, Lockridge opened the eyes of professional scouts and was selected by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2018 MLB Draft.

The 24-year-old currently plays centerfield for Double-A Somerset and is ranked the No. 19 prospect in the organization’s minor league system by MLB Pipeline. In 28 games with the Patriots entering Friday, Lockridge was hitting .342 with seven home runs, 13 RBIs, 21 runs, eight stolen bases and an OPS of .966.

"I think speed is definitely something that got scouts to recognize me," Lockridge said. "There are a lot of guys who play outfield that are great hitters, great defenders. I felt like speed was kind of my outlier that got me the attention and got me drafted where I was drafted at. That’s been my tool my whole life, really. It’s something I was blessed with."

Lockridge believes he can flash his speed with even greater frequency moving forward.

"Sometimes I don’t use it as much as I need to," he said. "I need to steal more bases, be a little bit more aggressive on the basepaths, which is something I’ve worked on this year."

After some adversity early this season with High-A Hudson Valley, Lockridge regained his footing before earning the promotion to Somerset.

"At the start of the year, I missed a month with a groin injury, then went back to Hudson Valley and started to feel things clicking for me — timing, getting my confidence back — then I kind of get unexpectedly promoted to Somerset,'' he said. "It was obviously a good shock."

Lockridge said watching the success of some recent Yankees call-ups — such as Luis Gil, Andrew Velazquez and Albert Abreu — has infused him and his teammates with quite a bit of excitement regarding their own futures.

"It’s extremely good to see," Lockridge said. "To see all these guys get these opportunities and to have played with some of them, it’s awesome to see them get the opportunity that they deserve.

"Talking to all my fellow minor-leaguers, we’re glued to the TV watching these guys play. We’re cheering for them and it gives us a little hope that this could be a possibility. We’re way closer than we think. It’s definitely an optimistic thing."

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