Prospect Profile: Eric JagieloBy
Eric Jagielo | 3B
Jagielo (pronounced “ja-guy-low”) is from the Chicago suburb of Downers Grove, where he lettered all four years in baseball at Downers Grove North High School. He hit .585/.676/1.137 with 17 doubles, 16 homers, 47 runs driven in, and 52 runs scored — school records across the board — with only four strikeouts as a senior and was named First Team All-State. Despite the production, Baseball America (subs. req’d) did not rank Jagielo as one of the 30 best prospects in the state for the 2010 draft. The Cubs selected him in the 50th round with the 1,510th overall pick, the 15th to last pick in the draft.
Jagielo declined to sign and instead followed through on his commitment to Notre Dame. He started all 53 games as a freshman for the Fighting Irish and was something of a super utility man, starting 30 games in left field, 15 in center field, six at first base, and two at third base. Jagielo hit .269/.355/.418 with 13 doubles, five homers, five stolen bases (in ten attempts), 25 walks, and 30 strikeouts that year, becoming the first freshman to hit third on Opening day for Notre Dame since 1988.
Following the season, Jagielo played for the North Shore Navigators of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, where he hit .313 with seven doubles, three homers, 18 walks, and 27 strikeouts in 41 games. He was named to the league’s All-Star Team, though Baseball America (subs. req’d) did not consider him one of the ten best pro prospects in the circuit.
A breakout sophomore season with the Irish followed. Jagielo put up a .310/.399/.546 batting line with 15 doubles, 13 homers, four stolen bases (in eight attempts), 28 walks, and 34 strikeouts. He also settled in at third base, starting 45 of 58 games at the position while also mixing in a few appearances at the corner outfield spots. That earned him a spot on the All-Conference Second Team.
Jagielo cemented his status as a potential first rounder during a stint with the Harwich Mariners in the Cape Cod League over the summer. He hit .291 with 13 homers, 20 walks, and 51 strikeouts in 42 games for Harwich and was both a midseason and postseason All-Star. Jagielo also participated in the Homerun Derby after finishing second in the league in homers. Baseball America (subs. req’d) ranked him as 14th best prospect in the prestigious wood bat league.
As a junior, Jagielo managed a .388/.500/.633 line with 19 doubles, nine homers, three steals (in six attempts), 35 walks, and 33 strikeouts in 56 games while manning the hot corner full-time. He was the best hitter on the team and pitchers pitched to him accordingly. Jagielo was voted First Team All-American and a finalist for the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award, the baseball equivalent of the Heisman Trophy.
Baseball America (no subs. req’d) ranked Jagielo as the second best prospect in Indiana and 16th best prospect available in the 2013 draft back in the spring. Keith Law (subs. req’d) had him as the 26th best prospect in the draft class, and sure enough, the Yankees selected him 26th overall with the first of their three first round picks. That was their natural first rounder. Jagielo signed just a few days after the draft for a straight slot bonus worth a touch less than $1.84M. It’s the fifth largest bonus New York has ever given a draft player, behind Andrew Brackman $3.35M), Ian Kennedy ($2.25M), Slade Heathcott ($2.2M), and Drew Henson ($2M).
Jagielo’s pro debut was delayed about two weeks by a minor quad injury he originally suffered with Notre Dame, but he eventually reported to Short Season Staten Island after a four-game tune-up in the Rookie Gulf Coast League down in Tampa. He hit .266/.376/.451 (153 wRC+) with 14 doubles, six homers, 26 walks, and 54 strikeouts in 218 plate appearances for the Baby Bombers.
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 215 lbs., Jagielo is a bat first prospect who was one of the best pure hitters in the draft class. His left-handed swing can get a little long at times because he sets his hands up high, but otherwise he makes loud contact to all fields and projects to hit for power average and power down the line. He’s strong enough to drive the ball even when he doesn’t square it up properly.
Jagielo worked hard to improve his approach and overall plate discipline throughout his time at Notre Dame and he made some pretty big strides this year. He spits on pitcher’s pitchers off the plate and has good enough recognition to stay back on breaking balls. The improvement he showed this spring was enough to get him drafted in the first round and there’s always a chance his approach could improve even more as he gains experience and works with pro instructors. It’s also worth noting Jagielo has shown a Chase Utley/Mark Teixeira-esque knack for getting hit by pitches — he got plunked 25 times in 167 college games and eight times in 55 games after signing — contributing to his on-base ability.
In the field, Jagielo has improved his defense to the point where he is expected to remain at third long-term, though he is unlikely to be anything more than average at the position. He doesn’t have a ton of range but he is agile with some first step quickness, and his arm is plenty strong for the position. Not too many players his size have stayed at third long-term but there’s no reason to move him yet. I guess left field could be a non-first base alternative even though he doesn’t run particularly well.
After spending three years as a starting player at a fairly major college program and having a successful pro debut with Staten Island, Jagielo is ticketed for High-A Tampa to start next season. He’ll be the everyday third baseman and probably hit third or fourth. I think there’s a pretty good chance the Yankees will bump him up to Double-A Trenton at midseason as well, as long as things are going smoothly.
I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but Jagielo fills a very obvious long-term need for the Yankees as a left-handed hitting third baseman with power and patience. He’s a perfect fit in that sense, though clubs usually don’t draft for need with their first selection. I tend to prefer riskier and higher upside players in the first round and the Yankees landed two guys like that in Ian Clarkin and Aaron Judge, so Jagielo is a nice “safer” pick to balance things out. I do want to see how that improved plate discipline holds up in year two before buying in fully. There is some roughness around the edges here but not much. New York hasn’t drafted a polished all-around college hitter like Jagielo in a long time, probably not since John-Ford Griffin in 2001.