On June 6th, the ##MLB released its second update on results of all-star voting. Only two players have eclipsed the one-million vote mark at this point in voting. One is #Mike Trout. The other,# #Aaron Judge. In the first two plus months of his rookie season, Aaron Judge has given the MLB a star in the most coveted uniform in sports that they were so desperate for. With ratings decreasing every year, Aaron Judge might just yet invigorate millennials to start watching baseball: something the MLB and all 30 teams in baseball have been so desperate for. Judge has been hitting to a slash line of .328/.433/.683 (as of June 7th) with a major league leading 18 home runs and 41 runs batted in.

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Yes, it looks like baseball has finally found a coveted star in pinstripes that they have not had since “The Captain” bowed out of baseball. However, it was not always glitz and glamour for the young star. In his short professional baseball career, Judge has progressed and dominated at every level through the only two things that he knew how to do: staying humble and giving it one hundred percent effort every time he stepped onto the diamond.

'Big' Beginnings

A native of Linden, California, Judge has been a star athlete his entire life. At Linden High School, Judge played as a first basemen in baseball, a wide receiver in football, and a center in basketball. He excelled at all three sports including setting the records for career touchdown receptions in football, leading the basketball team in points per game, and of course dominating the baseball diamond.

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At 6’7, 280 pounds, Judge was a natural athlete possessing a natural strength and size that few are born with. Surprisingly though, Judge decided he wanted to play baseball over the other two in college. “I fell in love with baseball at an early age”, Judge has told reporters. “If I had to choose one, it was always going to be baseball.” The Oakland Athletics were so impressed with Judge out of high school that they drafted him in the 31st round of the First-Year Players Draft. Judge decided not to sign with the A’s and instead, bet on himself to improve his draft stock for his next go around with the draft.

No one was surprised when Judge dominated opponents during his three years playing collegiately for the #Fresno State bulldogs of the #Mountain West Conference. While playing in Fresno, California is not quite the same media frenzy as New York, Judge was a highlight show in college as well. During his final year at Fresno State, Judge led his team in home runs (12), runs batted in (36), and doubles (15).

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He even won the #TD Ameritrade College Baseball Home Run Derby a year prior as a sophomore. You could see flashes of superstardom brewing in his game.

The bigger they are, the harder they fall

Then it happened. Judge’s bet on himself paid off when the #new york yankees selected him with their 1st round pick, 32nd overall in 2013 MLB Draft. However, despite his flashes of generational strength and power, Judge had one thing going against him as a draft prospect: his size. Historically, tall batters in baseball have struggled in the major leagues. The top five tallest players in league history as of 2010 were Jon Rauch, #Randy Johnson, Daniel Cabrera, Tony Clark, and Dustin Nippert. Of those five, the only one who was a hitter was #Tony Clark and he was a slightly above average player at best. The criticism that taller batters draw is that they have trouble hitting pitches on the inside and need to get both their bat and their swing fully extended to make contact. Essentially, they are all or nothing power hitters.

While Aaron possessed great size, power, and good speed, there were still many concerns that general managers had about him that may have made Judge slip in the draft. One general manager however, saw that green light at the end of tunnel and superstar potential that Aaron Judge carried. He is the current Yankees general manager, #Brian Cashman. When asked this past May on why he decided to select Judge at #32 overall, Cashman stated that “we thought we were sitting on an above-average future major-league player. We figured we were going to live with some, or a lot more, growing pains.”

From Charleston to the Bronx

Brian Cashman was spot on with his analysis on Judge. During Judge’s first minor league season in 2013, he tore a quadriceps femoris muscle during a base running activity that kept him out the rest of the year. Judge’s start as a Yankee was truly as bad as a start can get. However, just like Yankees fans have seen this season from Judge, he never gets dismayed. He’s a fighter who refuses to be defeated. Judge finally played his first minor league game in 2014 as a member of the Class A South Atlantic League Charleston Riverdogs. Judge absolutely crushed the competition with a slash line of .333/.428/.530 with 9 home runs and 45 runs batted in sixty-five games. The Yankees quickly promoted judge that year to the Class A-Advanced Florida State League Tampa Yankees where once again, Judge struggled at first arrival. Once again though, Aaron Judge would not be broken.

Judge finished the seasons with the Tampa Yankees slashing to a line of .283/.411/.422 with 8 home runs and 33 runs batted in in sixty-six games. Aaron began his second minor league season in 2015 with the Class AA Eastern League Trenton Thunder. The only difference was this time that Judge never struggled. He came in and dominated double a. The Yankees quickly promoted Aaron Judge to AAA Scranton-Wilkes/Barre in his final step before the major leagues in June of 2015. Once again though, Judge really struggled upon arrival. Judge hit just .224 from the plate with 8 home runs and 61 runs batted in during the rest of 2015 for the RailRiders. This is when the critics of Aaron Judge became their loudest and continued into this season to continually question Judge's potential in the MLB player today. Aaron Judge refused to listen. He knows his potential is limitless.

The #Yankees decided to keep Judge in Triple-A when the 2016 season began. As he always seems to do, Judge dominated in his second attempt. In 93 games for the RailRiders in 2016, Aaron Judge hit for a .270 batting average with 19 home runs and 65 runs batted in. The Yankees then finally let loose their prospect for his first licks at MLB pitching in August of 2016. He immediately gave Yankees fans a glimmer into the bright future. In Aaron Judge’s first career at bat on August 13th, 2016, against the Tampa Bay Rays, Aaron Judge hit a home run off Rays pitcher Matt Andriese. Judge followed that up with a home run in his second career game, as well. However, it was only struggles after that for Judge who struck out in forty-two of his next eighty-four at bats before his season ended prematurely on September 13th against the Los Angeles Dodgers when Judge picked up a grade 2 right oblique strain. In 27 games during his first major league stint, Aaron Judge finished with a slash line of .179/.263/.345 with 4 home runs and 10 runs batted in. The critics once again began to chirp in the peanut gallery about whether Judge simply is not an MLB player or maybe if he was not ready for the MLB yet and needed more time in Scranton. Once again, Aaron did not listen.

Judge and Jury

Entering spring training 2017, the Yankees were unsure of who was going to get the opening day nod in right field. They were deciding between 2nd year Yankee Aaron Hicks whom they had acquired in a trade with the Minnesota Twins prior to the 2016 MLB season and of course, Aaron Judge. Both Hicks and Judge made excellent cases for themselves as they both put up stellar spring trainings. In the end though, it was the kid from Fresno whom Yankees manager #Joe Girardi decided to give the honor too. At twenty-five years old, Aaron Judge was finally to put Major League Baseball on notice and the rest up to this point in the season, is history. From leading Major League Baseball in all-star game voting, to having a section of right field at Yankee Stadium made to look like a mock jury room entitled the, "Judge’s Chamber”, and to everything else in between that he does, Aaron Judge dominates baseball using the only two tools that he knows; staying humble and giving it one hundred percent effort every time that he steps foot onto the baseball diamond.