DUNEDIN, Fla. — Few Yankees were impacted more by the acquisition of Brandon Drury than Miguel Andujar.
While not necessarily the favorite to win the starting job at third, the prospect was solidly in the mix when camp began.
But when the three-team deal was consummated last week, general manager Brian Cashman said that the third-base job was basically Drury’s to lose.
If Andujar was disappointed, it hasn’t shown.
Not at the plate or in the field.
Especially at the plate.
Andujar went 1-for-3 with a homer Tuesday to improve to 4-for-10 this spring in the Yankees’ 9-8 victory over the Blue Jays at Dunedin Stadium.
“Strong athlete, fast bat,” one opposing team scout said. “The bat is real.”
Tuesday’s performance came on top of Monday night’s, when Andujar went 2-for-2 with a double and a walk-off homer in a 4-3 victory over the Phillies.
When Andujar got a taste of the big leagues last September, he went 4-for-7 with two doubles and four RBIs.
Asked after Tuesday’s victory if he was sending a message with his play, Andujar said no.
“It’s not about sending a message,” he said through his translator. “It’s about doing your job.”
The job he does with a bat never has been a question, Since he was signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2011, Andujar steadily has risen on the “top Yankees prospects” lists.
As Yankees position prospects go, only Gleyber Torres has gotten more attention than Andujar, who turns 23 on Friday.
“Big fan,” another rival talent evaluator said. “Still a little erratic with his throwing and work [defensively] and he doesn’t really walk. Wants to swing the bat and get the bat on the ball. There’s a not-a-pitch-he-doesn’t-like kind of thing with him. But the tools are all there.”
Manager Aaron Boone said his defense is a work in progress, something Andujar addressed this winter and the primary reason he arrived in Tampa nearly three weeks before position players were required to report.
“I’ll tell you what, he plays with a lot of confidence, especially when he gets in the box, and there’s good reason,” Boone said. “He’s got a lot of equipment to do some things.”
After the Drury trade, Andujar said “nothing changes” with his preparation and he’s been true to his word. He remains among the first to the field, working often with infield coach Carlos Mendoza.
“What I like to see is the smile’s still there, that belief in what he’s doing is there and it should be,” Boone said. “It’s fun to watch him right now.”
Andujar committed a combined 17 errors between stops with Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season, an improvement over the 22 he committed between Class A Tampa and Trenton in 2016 and the 26 he recorded in 2014 and 2015.
“I’ve tried to be more consistent on that side [defense] and have worked hard with the coaches,” Andujar said. “Go through all the routines and all the drills to help me be more consistent and repeat the good stuff. Keep repeating the good stuff.”
Boone, a former third baseman, has seen improvement.
“I think it’s just cleaning up mechanically some things he does defensively, but he’s a worker,” Boone said. “I think we’ve already seen improvements in that area. The work Mendy’s [Mendoza] been putting in with him. He’s going to be a good player over there, and I think we’ve seen strides already this spring.”