- Full name Gregory Paul Bird
- Born 11/09/1992 in Memphis, TN
- Profile Ht.: 6'3" / Wt.: 220 / Bats: L / Throws: R
- School Grandview
- Debut 08/13/2015
Drafted in the 5th round (179th overall) by the New York Yankees in 2011 (signed for $1,100,000).
View Draft ReportGreg Bird first put himself on the scouting radar when he was the catcher for righthander Kevin Gausman, who is now at Louisiana State. Bird has a 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame and mostly played first base this year, and that's where he projects as a pro. There's obvious strength in his lefthanded swing. It can get a little long at times, but he has good bat speed and gets plenty of loft and backspin on the ball. If he could catch, he would be a much more attractive prospect, but as a first baseman scouts aren't quite sold on his bat, so Bird will likely have to go prove himself at Arkansas.
Organization Prospect Rankings
The high school catcher for future Orioles righthander Kevin Gausman, Bird spurned an Arkansas commitment to sign with the Yankees for a $1.1 million bonus. He moved off catcher in pro ball and shifted to first base, where his recurring back spasms--which affected him in 2014 as well-- would be far less likely to come into play. He has worked hard to strengthen his core but still deals with recurring back issues. Like a lot of the Yankees' better prospects, Bird is a slow-twitch player with little athleticism to speak of. What he does well is hit. He's one of the purest hitters in the system, with the ability to pepper the field from line to line and the most advanced approach in the system. He knows the strike zone and knows his own swing well. He also generates plenty of power from a short swing, and projects to hit 18-20 homers in the big leagues, a figure that could be boosted by the short porch in Yankee Stadium if he pulls the ball more often. He's average around the bag at first base and is a well below-average runner. After making up for the month or so he lost with time in the Arizona Fall League, Bird has a good shot to start 2015 in Triple-A.
Bird spent his prep days catching future Orioles first-rounder Kevin Gausman, but he was not long for the position. The Yankees bought him out of his Arkansas commitment for $1.1 million in 2011, gave him a brief look at catcher and quickly converted him to first base in 2013. He became the first lefthanded hitter for low Class A Charleston to reach 20 home runs since it became a Yankees affiliate, while also leading the minors with 107 walks. Bird was the Yankees' breakout prospect and has a mature offensive approach. He led the South Atlantic League with a .428 on-base percentage, remembers pitch sequences and learned which pitches he could drive, hitting 13 of his 20 homers in the second half. Bird's hit tool is more advanced than his power, and some scouts and managers noted that his swing has little loft and lacks premium bat speed. Back problems helped prompt his move to first base and limit his athleticism and defensive ability. He has limited range but adequate arm strength. He's a below-average runner. Bird draws comparisons with the Yankees' primary first baseman in 2013, Lyle Overbay. He's slated for high Class A Tampa in 2014.
The Yankees surprised the industry by signing Bird for $1.1 million after drafting him in the fifth round in 2011. The high school catcher for Kevin Gausman, who became the No. 4 overall pick in the 2012 draft, Bird was considered too stiff and too big to stay behind the plate, but the Yankees were buying the bat, and they're all in on Bird's. They did intend to give Bird a shot to catch, but nagging back pain and weakness in the spring lasted into extended spring training, and he went on the disabled list after playing four games in June. He returned in August as a first baseman/DH and mashed, so he's probably there to stay. He hit his way up to Staten Island, where he finished with a flourish and homered in his last game, and he continued to hit well in instructional league. The Yankees are high on his hitting instincts, bat speed and plus raw power. He has the ability to put backspin on the ball and should hit for enough power to profile at first base. He has a strong arm but lacks athleticism, agility and speed. New York praises Bird's makeup, and he should help anchor the Charleston lineup in 2013.
Bird played at Grandview High (Aurora, Colo.) with righthander Kevin Gausman, who's now at Louisiana State and is expected to be a 2012 first-round pick as a draft-eligible sophomore. Gausman's presence brought some attention to Bird, who made a name for himself last spring, hitting .553 with 12 home runs as Colorado's high school baseball player of the year. Committed to Arkansas, Bird went in the fourth round of the 2011 draft and spent the summer in the California Collegiate League. He hit .273/.446/.494, reinforcing the Yankees' strong conviction that he'll hit for power as a pro. They signed him for $1.1 million, more than they paid any other draftee last year. New York not only believes in Bird's lefthanded pop but also thinks he has a chance to catch, which wasn't the industry consensus. He has some arm strength, but he's big for the position and not terribly athletic or agile. The Yankees love offense-first catchers, but he's behind the likes of Jesus Montero, Gary Sanchez and J.R. Murphy at a similar stage of development. Bird will need time to adjust to catching as a pro and many area scouts believed he'll have to move to first base. They weren't totally sold on his hitting ability because his swing can get long at times, but it's hard not to like his strength and bat speed, not to mention his ability to loft and backspin balls. He's a well below-average runner. Bird will work on his defense in extended spring training to begin 2012.
Minor League Top Prospects
Coming into the season, the big criticisms of Bird were his lingering back issues and defensive play at first base. Left unquestioned were his abilities as a hitter. At every stop, Bird has shown an approach at the plate advanced beyond his years, as well as enough power to stick as an everyday player at a corner position. After a strong showing in the EL last year and an MVP performance in the Arizona Fall League, Bird needed just half a season of sharpening before moving to Triple-A. The Yankees summoned Bird to the majors in August, and he stuck with the big club through the end of the season when Mark Teixeira succumbed to a fractured leg. Evaluators saw the same combination of power and patience that Bird showed in 2014, and also noted smoother actions around the bag at first base.
Bird's brief stop in the IL en route to Yankee Stadium as a replacement for the injured Mark Teixeira was long enough to qualify for this list and impress observers with his overall hitting ability. "The best hitter we saw all year,"" Boles said of Bird. Bird's potential begins with his mastery of the strike zone. He combines a disciplined approach at the plate with a balanced swing and quick hands to drive the ball to all parts of the ballpark. His power is still blossoming and he has already begun taking advantage of the short right-field porch in the Bronx. Drafted as a catcher, Bird made significant strides at first base this season: His footwork around the bag is serviceable and he has improved at picking balls in the dirt.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the New York Yankees in 2014
- Rated Best Hitter for Average in the New York Yankees in 2014