Prospect Profile: Greg Bird

2014 Stats: 

Level: A+/AA

.271/.376/.472   14% BB%   22% K%   .201 ISO   .390 BABIP   1/1 SB   -11 DEF

Bird ranked #5 on my Yankees top 100 list.

Background:

Greg Bird was drafted as a catcher in the 5th round in 2011, but a back injury forced him to sit out most of his first year as a pro. The Yankees moved him to first base in 2013, and he responded by having a breakout season in the South Atlantic League. Bird belted 20 homers in 2013, and also walked up a storm on his way to a .288/.428/.511 batting line.

What he did in 2014 (as a pro):

Bird moved to Class-A Tampa to start 2014, but yet another back injury forced him to sit out the first month of the season, which may have contributed to a slow start to the year. Bird’s bat heated up with the weather, however, as the 6’3″ first baseman crushed 11 homers in 53 games from July 4th on, after hitting just 3 in his first 49 games. Included in this power surge was a promotion to Double-A Trenton, where he more than held his own with a powerful .253/.379/.558 batting line. Bird didn’t stop there, but kept up the hot hitting in the Arizona Fall League, where he punished opposing pitchers to the tune of .313/.391/.556. Bird’s 2014 campaign was no doubt a successful one. By drawing walks and hitting for power, he put himself on the prospect map, and showed that his breakout 2013 campaign was no fluke.

What Kiley says:

He moves pretty well around the bag and is fine defensively, but it’s all about the bat here … Bird has an advanced feel for the strike zone and is more of a hitter who has power than a slugger that swings from his heels … I’ve seen him hit homers in games to all parts of the ballpark and seen him carry the center field wall by 30 feet. It’s plus power and it might be a 65, I just haven’t seen it in BP to confirm.

What KATOH says:

Bird

Bird raked last year, so it’s a little off-putting to see that KATOH’s relatively unenthusiastic about his future. KATOH gives Bird just a 65% chance of making the majors, which feels extremely low for a player who’s supposed to be among the team’s best prospects. KATOH is a little concerned about Bird’s high strikeout rates, but also doesn’t know that his offensive numbers got increasingly better as the year wore on. Still, 5.2 WAR through age 28 wouldn’t be a terrible outcome for Bird. Here are the recent first baseman who came within one WAR of that mark through age 28: , Casey Kotchman, Adam LaRoche, James Loney, Lyle Overbay, and Mark Trumbo. Most of those guys were everyday players, at least.

Future Outlook:

In order to carve out any sort of role in the majors, Bird will need to hit. Plain and simple. He’s strictly a first baseman at this point, and not a particularly good one at that.  On top of that, he won’t add even a modicum of value on the bases thanks to his 35-grade speed. For high-walk hitters like Bird, the jump from High-A to Double-A is what really separates the men from the boys, so 2015 should be a good indication of his offensive upside. The power’s there, but the jury’s still out as to whether he’ll make enough contact to overcome his defensive liabilities.

About Chris

Chris works in economic development by day, but spends most of his nights thinking about baseball. He writes for Pinstripe Pundits, and is an occasional user of the twitter machine: @_chris_mitchell
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