Today, we know Aaron Judge as the MLB leader in home runs, capable of breaking television screens and providing hotel wake-up calls with his mammoth blasts. His power and talent are so vast that the Yankees invested in some mid-season renovations to Yankee Stadium to provide him with his own chambers.
When the Yankees drafted Judge out of Fresno State in the first round (32nd overall) of the 2013 MLB Draft, they likely envisioned him blossoming into his current form. But Judge wasn't always the home run smashing behemoth you see before you today. Fortunately, the MLSB scouting reports leading up to the Yankees' selection of Judge can help shine some light on how he became the player he is now.
By virtue of leading all of baseball in home runs, Judge's signature tool is clearly his power.
It wasn't always that way. As a senior at Linden HS in California, the now-outfielder played first base. At a position known as a hub for power bats, Judge's didn't stand out.
The scout rated his power a 4 on the 2-8 scouting scale, indicating that this 17-year-old iteration of Judge possessed below-average power despite already standing at his current height of 6-foot-7. Though the notes indicate that he had above-average raw power, the overall summary of Judge-the-high-schooler didn't even mention his power.
It would be inconceivable now, in the year 2017, to pen a six-sentence summary of Judge and omit his power. In 2010, that was what happened.
We also know that Judge is one of the best teammates out there. He's so good in that facet that he's even drawn comparisons to Derek Jeter.
Returning to the scouting report from high school, Judge received an "excellent" rating for emotional maturity. There has never been a 17-year-old male in history with excellent emotional intelligence. At least, there wasn't until Aaron Judge turned 17 in 2009.
In his sophomore and junior years at Fresno State, Judge's attributes as a generally good guy continued to shine through. Scouts began to refer to him as a "gentle giant," a motif that runs through scouting reports in both 2012 and 2013. At 6-foot-7 the term "giant" comes with an air of objectivity. "Gentle" is more an opinion, though one that has proven correct.
Lastly, all scouting reports come down to an evaluation of a player's OFP -- his overall future projection. OFP is based on the 20-80 scouting scale, where a grade of 50 would indicate an average Major League player. Even the lanky, below-average powered, first-base version of Judge received an OFP of 54. Even at his least appealing -- a first baseman without great power -- Judge was seen as an above-average player down the road.
By the time he reached his sophomore year of college and his power had shot up to a 6, Judge was tagged with a 60 OFP, a projection he maintained through the time of his drafting.
Even that projection looks conservative from our current perch. With Judge on pace for over 40 home runs and an MVP-type season, the so-called gentle giant has emerged as more formidable than even the projections predicted.