August 02, 2006
Baseball America is featuring Justin Christian in their current Yankees organization report:
A big part of the Thunder being two games out of first place in the EL's Northern Division in late July were the legs and defense of Justin Christian.
Signed out of the independent Frontier League, Christian was hitting.267/.331/.357 through 311 at-bats with 49 steals in 58 attempts. He ranked second in the minors in steals.
"In all the years I have been doing this, he is in the top three baserunners I have seen," manager Bill Masse said of the 26-year-old Southeast Missouri State product. "He has good instincts and great explosiveness. He has a good feel for when to go. He gets good jumps and goes on the right pitches."
Masse believes based on Christian's legs and ability to track balls in the outfield that he could play in the big leagues some day. A converted second baseman, Christian is still getting comfortable in the outfield.
"This guy has a chance," Masse says of the 6-foot-1, 188-pounder, who is in his second year in the Yankees organization. "He could be a pinch-runner and a guy to catch the ball."
Christian's age could work against him, especially in the Yankee organization. And while he batted .303 combined in 2005 for low Class A Charleston and Tampa, he still needs to improve at the plate.
"It's his first year at Double-A and he is OK with the fastball but has struggled with the breaking ball," Masse said. "Even though he is a little older, he will learn to use his tools, learn to hit the ball on the ground and learn how to bunt."
Just a name to remember in case the Yankees are looking for the next Bubba Crosby someday.
Posted by Steve Lombardi at August 2, 2006 11:33 AM
Won't happen unless Cashman takes the leap and decides Christian can provide speed off the bench while being a decent back-up outfielder or infielder. The coaching staff has probably never even seen him play in Spring Training. Plus, Bret Gardner could fill that role as early as late 2007.