: Brett GardnerPosition
: 5'10", 180 lbsBats
: August 24, 1983Hometown
: Holly Hill, South CarolinaDrafted
: 3rd round (109th overall) in 2005 (Yankees 3rd selection). Received a $210,000 bonus.Background
: A 3-year starter at the College of Charleston, Gardner was wrapping up a very impressive junior season when the Yankees called his name during the amateur draft. His .447 BA was third in nation in 2005, as he finished the season with 122 hits in 63 games, tied for the most hits in the country with current Florida State outfielder Shane Robinson, who's 122 hits came in 73 games. His 85 runs in 2005 is the all-time mark at CoC, and his 38 stolen bases led the Southern Conference. He wrapped up his Cougar career as a third team All-American, sporting a stellar .382-.456-.508-.963 career line, mostly from the leadoff spot. Like fellow Yankee farmhands Phil Hughes and Chris Malec
, Gardner grew up a Red Sox fan but is happy to be in pinstripes.Strengths
: Gardner's legs are his calling card. He's the fastest player in the organization, and has solid baserunning instincts to go along with his game changing speed. Unlike many young players (read Reyes, Jose), Gardner doesn't steal bases for the sake of it; he's adept at picking spots and knows when it's more valuable to the team for him to use the threat of a SB to get the pitcher to pump fastballs to the meat of the order. He draws a good amount of walks and uses the whole field while making consistent, hard contact. He's got outstanding makeup, and is a hard worker who doesn't take a play off.Weaknesses
: Gardner will never hit for much power - he hit only 8 total homeruns at CoC, at least three of which were inside-the-park jobs - and he's aware of it. He needs to work on playing the little man's game; improving his bunting ability and two-strike approach. He does strike out a bit too much for a leadoff man: 1.26 K/BB at Staten Island, 1.11 in college. His routes in the outfield leave something to be desired, but he uses his speed to hide that blemish effectively.Comparison
: Gardner adjusted well to wood bats, and finished the NY-Penn League season ranking in top 5 in at bats (fifth with 282), runs (second with 62), and stolen bases (tied for fifth with 19). A centerfielder with minimal power and speed to spare? The comparisons are inevitable (all stats are short season stats):
* CS data isn't available for Podsednik at thebaseballcube.com, so I can't calculate his SB%, but he did steal 20 bases in the NY-Penn League
Gardner's stats fit comfortably in between Podsednik's and Pierre's; I'll take it, a leadoff hitter that's better than Podsednik but not as good as Pierre is one of the better leadoff men in the league. Of course, it's too early to tell if that's what he'll develop into.
Outlook: Gardner is one of 3 centerfielders with premium athletic ability the Yankees added to the organization in 2005, joining Austin Jackson and Jose Tabata. Of the 3, Gardner is the closest to a sure thing given his college track record. Gardner will likely be the second Yankee 2005 draftee to reach the majors, behind JB Cox, however with Johnny Damon signed to a new 4 year deal, the Yanks can afford to be patient with Gardner. He'll skip Low-A Charleston and head to High-A Tampa to begin 2005, with the possibility of seeing Double-A Trenton if he gets off to a hot start. If he moves quickly as expected, he'll begin his Yankee career as a fourth outfielder, possibly by the second half of 2007.