Taylor Dugas is, in many respects, an ideal 21st-century offensive player.
The Yankees' prospect boasts a strong ability to get on base, thanks in large part to a patient approach at the plate, a skill set that may have been undervalued in the past but is now viewed as essential in the post-Moneyball era.
"It starts with knowing what kind of player I am," said Dugas, 24, a lefty-hitting outfielder who was promoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in June. "I've always been a leadoff hitter. I always try to see a lot of pitches, work the count and be a tough out."
Dugas has a .417 on-base percentage and a 13.8 percent walk rate in 1,066 minor-league plate appearances since being drafted in the eighth round in 2012. An 8.5 percent walk rate is considered average.
"Getting on base is a huge part of the game," Dugas said. "Once you're on base, it puts pressure on the pitcher [and] it puts pressure on the defense."
While Dugas was born and raised in Louisiana, he says he grew up as a Yankees fan. His dad and brother were both fans, and Ron Guidry, who is from the same area, is a family friend. "Yankees games in the '90s were always on in my house. I just fell in love. There's such a great tradition."
"It couldn't be any better, growing up a Yankees fan and [now] having the opportunity to make it to the big leagues with them."
After finishing his career at the University of Alabama as the school's all-time hits leader, Dugas was assigned to Staten Island. In 59 games with the Class A-short season club, Dugas hit .306 and his .465 on-base percentage was second in the New York-Penn League. He also led the league with 55 walks (18.5 percent of his plate appearances).
Dugas split 2013 between Class A Charleston and Class A Tampa, posting a .285/.405/.339 slash line and a 13.4 walk rate.
"Going from Low A to High A was a big difference," Dugas said, "because it was such a long season. I had to get my body ready to adjust. You just kind of learn the things you need to do to get better."
This year, Dugas began the season in Double-A, and after a strong showing, he was promoted to Triple-A. In 82 games between the two levels, Dugas has a .393 on-base percentage, a career-high .409 slugging percentage and a 10 walk rate.
In terms of an eventual promotion, Dugas says he "can only control the things I can: playing hard and playing good baseball everyday. You play baseball every day, it's your job, but there are those moments I realize 'wow, I'm one level away from the big leagues.' You feel how close you are. You have to grind it out and try to be consistent."
Judging by his approach at the plate, grinding things out and consistency are things Dugas knows all about.