- Full name Brett M. Gardner
- Born 08/24/1983 in Holly Hill, SC
- Profile Ht.: 5'11" / Wt.: 195 / Bats: L / Throws: L
- School College Of Charleston
- Debut 06/30/2008
Drafted in the 3rd round (109th overall) by the New York Yankees in 2005 (signed for $210,000).
View Draft ReportCollege of Charleston was one of the nation's most explosive offensive clubs, owing chiefly to leadoff man Brett Gardner, who should go in the first 10 rounds. Some scouts consider him a true leadoff threat because he has top-of-the-line speed, rating an 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale. Gardner used his speed to rank among the national leaders in hits, batting and stolen bases. Gardner has first-step quickness and is at top speed after one or two steps, and he reminds scouts of Devil Rays prospect Joey Gathright with his explosiveness. He also stays within himself offensively with a flat swing that sprays line drives and hard ground balls; he rarely flies out. His instincts are solid and he has room for improvement defensively and with his bunting.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Gardner ranked in the Top 10 on this list the previous two seasons and made his big league debut on June 30, going back to the minors in late July before returning for good in mid-August. He got regular playing time in September in an audition to replace Melky Cabrera. Gardner was true to himself in the big leagues, displaying his plus-plus speed but also his usual lack of power and propensity to strike out. He's an excellent baserunner with a unique combination of speed and acceleration. He was caught stealing only once in 14 tries in the majors, when he was picked off by Mark Buehrle, and he also has above-average range in center field, though his arm is below-average. Gardner's power is well-below-average, and pitchers at higher levels have challenged him more, jamming him and keeping him from getting his arms extended. However, Gardner made some adjustments late, hitting safely in his final six big league games. He was too passive in his first major league exposure and has to strike a balance between aggressively looking for pitches to drive and drawing walks to get on base and use his speed. The consensus inside the organization and out sees Gardner as a second-division regular or fourth outfielder. In the best-case scenario, Gardner has a Juan Pierre-type of career with more walks. At worst, he's another Jason Tyner. Depending on what New York does this offseason, Gardner could get a chance to wrest the everyday job from Cabrera in the spring.
A former walk-on who became the highest-drafted player ever from the College of Charleston, Gardner reached Triple-A in his second full pro season. After missing a month when an errant pitch broke his right hand, he finished 2007 by hitting .343 in the Arizona Fall League, leading the league with 27 runs and 16 steals. The fastest prospect in the system, Gardner rates as a 70 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale and is an adept basestealer, succeeding on 84 percent of his 116 attempts the last two seasons. He uses his speed well defensively and has above-average range in center field. Offensively, he evokes Brett Butler by bunting, slashing line drives and taking walks. Gardner has hit one homer the last two years and doesn't have the swing path or strength to hit for much more. He'll have to prove he won't be overpowered in the majors, and he needs to hang in better against lefthanders to avoid becoming a platoon player. His arm is below average yet playable in center. The Yankees believe Gardner will hit enough to be a regular and some club officials compare him to Jacoby Ellsbury, which is a stretch. Unlike Ellsbury, Gardner needs to start 2008 in Triple-A and hone his offensive game. Then he can challenge Melky Cabrera for the center-field job in the Bronx--with Austin Jackson gaining ground from behind.
A former walk-on, Gardner became the highest-drafted player in College of Charleston history as a senior in 2005. He reached Double-A and ranked ninth in the majors with 58 steals in his first full pro season. The organization's fastest runner, Gardner has earned 70 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale for his speed and consistently turns in 4.0-second times from the plate to first base. He's an adept basestealer who succeeded on 83 percent of his attempts in 2006, and he covers the gaps well in center field. Gardner endears himself to scouts with his all-out hustle, while his plate discipline ranks as the best in the system. He stays within himself at the plate and sprays line drives from gap to gap, using a short swing he repeats well. With no power to speak of, Gardner will have to keep proving that he can hold his own against better pitching as he moves up the ladder. He has the bat speed to turn on balls inside, but he frequently gets beat on the outer half and fails to adjust. His arm is below average and his routes are erratic, though he usually outruns his mistakes. With Johnny Damon signed for three more seasons, Gardner has time to prove he can drive the ball enough to become a regular. He's ticketed for Triple-A in 2007.
Of the Yankees' 2005 draftees, only righthander J. Brent Cox figures to move faster than Gardner, who earned raves as an amateur and again in helping lead Staten Island to the New York-Penn League championship. Gardner was a third-team All-American in 2005, when he set College of Charleston records for runs (85) and hits (122, tied for the NCAA Division I lead) in a season while leading the Southern Conference in those categories as well as stolen bases (38). A third-round pick in June who signed for $210,000, Gardner is an 80 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale and has edged Tim Battle as the organization's fastest man. He's also a savvy basestealer. He doesn't have Battle's power, but he has enough juice to earn pitchers' respect and his polish at the plate is obvious. He doesn't try to do too much, spraying line drives from foul pole to foul pole, and isn't afraid to take a walk. He's a good defender in center field with a solid arm. Gardner needs to hone his two-strike approach and could improve his bunting to better take advantage of his speed. He's poised to skip a level and should join Battle in the Tampa outfield.
Minor League Top Prospects
When Gardner received his first big league callup at the end of June, he was leading the IL in on-base percentage, stolen bases, walks and triples--nicely summing up all the facets of his offensive profile. He's a scrappy leadoff type who gets the absolute most out of his modest tools and 5-foot-10, 180-pound frame. Gardner uses long, easy strides and pure 70 speed on the 20-80 scouting scale to function as a pest on the bases and serve as a plus defender in center field. He's especially effective as a basestealer because he never betrays when he's going to run by leaning or taking an extra step toward second base. Gardner has an excellent feel for the strike zone, working deep counts and spraying the ball around. He'll need to adapt to pitchers jamming him with fastballs if he's going to hit for average in the big leagues. He can be defensed, too, because he favors the opposite field. Because he gets next to no extension in his swing, Gardner's power is far below average. He has nine career home runs in 1,456 minor league at-bats--or one every 162 trips--and didn't go deep in 127 at-bats in the majors. "He's one of those pesky little players who ignites the rest of the lineup, the type of player that every good team seems to have," a scout with a National League club said. "He's got good instincts and he can make things happen. He was taught to make contact and beat out groundballs to get on base. Some players with his tools don't use them to their advantage."
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Bunter in the American League in 2013
- Rated Fastest Baserunner in the American League in 2011
- Rated Best Bunter in the American League in 2011
- Rated Fastest Baserunner in the New York Yankees in 2009
- Rated Best Baserunner in the International League in 2008
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the International League in 2008
- Rated Fastest Baserunner in the New York Yankees in 2008
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the New York Yankees in 2008
- Rated Fastest Baserunner in the New York Yankees in 2007
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the New York Yankees in 2007
- Rated Best Defensive Outfielder in the Florida State League in 2006
- Rated Best Baserunner in the Florida State League in 2006
- Rated Best Defensive Outfielder in the New York Yankees in 2006
- Rated Fastest Baserunner in the New York Yankees in 2006