Big Bats in the Bronx

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Nick Swisher, Retired / MLB - The Players' Tribune

Are you kidding me with these young thunder cats in the Bronx?

I mean, come on, for real … are you kidding me right now?

This is so much fun to watch.

Baseball is a young man’s game right now, and I’m loving every second of it. It’s incredible to see so many young stars on other teams, but what’s happening in New York is on its own level. There’s no better example of young talent in the majors than the boys we’re seeing hit their stride this summer at Yankee Stadium.

It’s insane.

Now, before I go any further, let me stop right here for a second. I want to address any Yankee haters reading this. Look, I’m not asking you to rock a Yankees cap or even say anything nice about anyone in pinstripes. I know you can’t do that. I get it. I’m just asking you — as a fan of the sport — to appreciate what these young Yankees are doing.

You gotta admit that it’s fun to see guys like Judge and Sanchez and Frazier just straight up mash baseballs!

Baseball is only as strong as its crop of young players, and you gotta admit that it’s fun to see guys like Judge and Sanchez and Frazier just straight up mash baseballs!

It’s ridiculously fun to watch right now.

And if you are a Yankees fan … I mean, wow. I can’t imagine a more awesome time than now. Today. This very moment!

Remember back in the day, when the Yankees didn’t win the World Series, it was considered a bad year! That’s the expectations these fellas are getting back to!

This team is shooting for championships again.

But you know what? It is even more of a badass time to be a player! Because these guys, and these teams moving forward, have the ability to be whatever they want. And that’s exciting!

And personally, it was such an honor for me to have played with this next wave of guys a couple years ago — guys who hopefully can turn into … not the next Core Four, but whatever their own version of it is going to be.

And that’s really the thing.

This crew just needs to be who they are … and roll with that. You’ll never match The Core Four. You’ll never be able to replicate those guys. They earned all of it!

But, I’m telling you: This next wave is going to be a fun group to watch!

And I know firsthand, if you have the opportunity to play for that team, in that city, and get on a roll … it’s the greatest job on the planet! It’s the greatest place in the world to play. So these guys are in for the ride of their lives.

The organization is full of young, talented players — up and down the farm system. But these four guys especially — Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird and Clint Frazier — have me really dreaming big. I know what they can do. And I’m hoping to be sitting here five or six years from now, a couple of championships in, just blown away by these dudes and saying … Wow, you know what? We should probably give this group its own nickname. These guys have earned that right.

But for now I’ll just give you a little taste of what each guy is all about.

Aaron Judge

I mean … what can I say?

Aaron Judge is baseball’s biggest attraction. Literally.

He’s unique in so many ways on the field, obviously. But I feel like what makes him really special is not only his ability to play the game, but also his ability to represent his team and his game the right way. That dude straight up handles himself in the way that people like me, who love this sport, all hope someone in his position would.

There’s still room for him to get better. He’s just now coming around. How crazy is that?

Nick Swisher

He goes about everything he does the right way. And it’s awesome.

I remember walking into the clubhouse in Scranton a few years ago and seeing him up close for the first time. It was one of those deals where you can sense that the person you’re looking at has a good aura around him. He had his unique, humble smile going. And there was just this warmness that he exuded. I immediately thought to myself, That is a good guy, right here. I could tell immediately. Right from the start. Before we even spoke.

And I can tell you this, too: He’s not changing who he is because of all the stardom. He’s living his life, taking things in stride.

It’s gonna be a fun ride with that guy, because he’s really only getting started.

It’s been so exciting to watch, not just as an analyst and a fan of the game, but also as a friend … almost like a big brother.

I’m proud of that guy. And I’m not kidding: There’s still room for him to get better. He’s just now coming around.

How crazy is that?

He’s evolving as a baseball player, and you can see him improving little by little. He’s not giving away at bats. He’s constantly learning. And that’s a recipe for long-term success.

But the other thing you need to know about that dude, and one of the things I love most about him, is that what he does on the field isn’t what matters most to him … he’s there to win games. That’s what he cares about.

And when the best player on your team … all he wants to do is win … you’ve got a great chance. When that guy is also one of your hardest workers, it’s the perfect combo. That’s an awesome thing for other players to see.

I’m just super excited to watch what happens next with that guy, because he’s doing things to baseballs that I have never seen in my lifetime!

Gary Sanchez

This guy is what every general manager drools over.

Not only a player who can mash baseballs and hit for average, but someone who can wiggle his fingers and handle the pitching staff and control the running game….

Are you kidding me?

Gary Sanchez is like hitting the lottery. Guys like that are so hard to find.

Nick Swisher

And then he’s out there stealing bases, too? Come on!

When we were teammates, I remember seeing him walk out on the field with his gear on for the first time and just kind of being blown away by how big and strong he looked. He was huge.

Then he comes up to bat, hits an absolute laser and a few second later….

He steals second!

Easily.

I’m like, Is this dude for real? How can this even be? How is it even possible that someone can do all this stuff?

Gary Sanchez is like hitting the lottery. Guys like that are so hard to find — a two-way catcher who has that skill set … those guys just aren’t out there. You’ll have guys who can do one or the other. But not both. Not at his level.

So to be able to have someone like that at such a young age? Wow. That’s just an amazing asset for the Yankees to have. I absolutely love that dude.

This guy is an amazing baseball player!

Greg Bird

I’m telling you. Don’t forget about Greg Bird. He’s been out for most of the year, but he’s legit.

We saw what that guy can do in spring training this year. We saw it. It’s in there.

Nick Swisher

He’s exactly what first basemen are supposed to look like: tall, long, lean, powerful. He checks all the boxes. As soon as he can get healthy, and get back on the field, he’ll mash like a first baseman is supposed to!

I had the chance to play against him a few years ago when I was on a rehab assignment with Cleveland, and he hit three or four home runs in that series that were just absolute bombs. I’m watching the ball leave his bat and fly over my head at first base and I’m thinking to myself: Holy s***!

That’s big-time pop right there. Big power.

And, look, we saw what that guy can do in spring training this year. We saw it. It’s in there.

He got banged up early. Maybe he tried so hard to get back that he reinjured himself. But he has the ability to be a staple over there for the Yankees for years to come. No doubt.

Plus … he’s got the greatest number on the planet: 33.

So he’s bound to succeed. He can’t go wrong.

Clint Frazier

This kid’s a beast … just a monster.

And there’s so much to love about him.

His nickname … Red Thunder, I mean … is that the perfect nickname for that dude or what?

Nick Swisher

He’s got all five tools. The guy’s built like a Greek god. And his nickname … Red Thunder, I mean … is that the perfect nickname for that dude or what?

It’s been fun for me to watch Clint come up and do his thing. He was a first-round pick with the Indians when I was over there in 2013. So I was able to see this kid from the first day he showed up.

I remember standing outside the cage with Big G (Jason Giambi) watching Clint take BP, and seeing him launch balls out to right center on command. It was impressive.

I’m looking at Big G like: Bro … is this how they are making athletes nowadays?

It was ridiculous.

In some ways he kind of reminds me of myself when I was young. Clint has much more talent than I did though — I mean, I wish I had the potential as a young player that this kid has!

He goes out there and is ready to give all he’s got.

The future is bright for that guy. All he has to do is let his playing do the talking. And you know what? That’s exactly what he’s doing!

He’s learning every day. He’s not leaving anything on the table. He can’t. He’s all out, all the time … and I love him for it!

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