Brandon Laird wasn’t a standout when the Yankees drafted him in the 27th round of the 2007 draft. The 6’1″ 215 lbs. 23-year-old is on their radar now as he’s knocking on the door of the major leagues.
He started in the Yankees system as a 19-year-old in the Gulf Coast League and opened some eyes right away by hitting .339 with a .945 OPS in 45 games there. He was promoted to Low-A Charleston in 2008 where he hit .273 with an .832 OPS and an impressive 23 homers.
2009 was a slight step back as he struggled a bit in High-A Tampa hitting .266 with a .744 OPS and only 13 home runs. Because of that minor step back 2010 was a big season for him. If he took another step backward he was in real danger of losing his prospect status. But luckily for Laird, he took off in 2010.
He started last season in Double-A Trenton and tore the cover off the wall. In 107 games there he hit .291 with an .878 OPS and 23 home runs. He hit so well that it looked like he could possibly earn a promotion to the Bronx because the Yankees had the need of a backup third baseman and failed to trade for one at the July deadline.
The Yankees resisted that urge and instead sent him to Triple-A Scranton where he struggled a bit. In 31 games there he hit just .246 with a lowly .612 OPS and only two homers. He wasn’t ready for the major leagues yet.
He probably won’t start the season in the Bronx, but he could be soon after that though. He’s played mostly third and first in the minors, but the Yankees had him in the Arizona Fall League where he was playing both left and right fields to make him more versatile.
The Yankees will attempt to acquire a backup third baseman for A-Rod and a backup outfielder, but if they fail to do that or the one they do sign fails to produce Laird would be on the short list to be called up to fill in.
The Yankees like Laird’s power potential. If he does take to the outfield easily and can play both corner outfield spots the Yankees will like him a lot more. Right now he’s blocked by A-Rod at third base, but could serve as a super-utility player until A-Rod moves to DH. If his bat adjusts quickly to the majors it’s possible to see him as a permanent fixture in the outfield.
That’s getting ahead of things a little bit though. First he has to show he’s ready for the majors by hitting in Triple-A. Judging by the way he hit in Double-A he likely will, but he’s got to prove it first. Then on to the majors.
It’s hard to say how high his ceiling really is, he can probably turn into a decent .270/.340/.475 type which would certainly get him a starting job if he’s capable of playing in the outfield or if third base opens up for the Yankees. Or he could struggle in the majors, hang-on as a utility player for a couple of years before he’s out of the league. 2011 will show a lot in determining that.
Here are his minor league stats: