Fresno State fans remember him as an all-conference phenom who led the Bulldogs to the Western Athletic Conference championship in 2011. New York Yankees fans know him as an All-Star outfielder who had a record-breaking rookie season in 2017. As one of the many fresh-faced stars in MLB, Aaron Judge is also one of those rare players who has captured the baseball world’s attention from coast to coast. Here’s everything you need to know about this on-the-rise bi-coastal star.
His Early Baseball Career
Born April 26, 1992, in Linden, California, Judge was a triple-sport threat at Linden High School, earning accolades in baseball, football and basketball. Although heavily recruited to play football at several big-name universities, including Notre Dame and UCLA, Judge opted to stick with baseball and in 2010 was selected in the 31st round of the MLB draft by the Oakland Athletics.
But instead of heading straight to the majors, Judge accepted a scholarship to Fresno State, where he starred in the outfield and at the plate for three years. During his freshman year, the Bulldogs won the WAC Tournament, and he was named a freshman All-American by Louisville Slugger.
After his junior year at Fresno State, Judge was selected with the 32nd overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft by the Yankees. Soon after, he signed with the Bronx Bombers and received a $1.8 million signing bonus. Still, his prowess at the plate had to be put on hold.
His Time in the Minor Leagues
After tearing a quad muscle during practice, Judge didn’t play a single game in the 2013 season. A year later, he started the season in the Minor Leagues with the Class A Charleston RiverDogs and was eventually called up to the Class A-Advanced Tampa Yankees, where he hit eight home runs and had 33 RBI in 66 games.
In 2015, Judge went to spring training as a non-roster player and spent the season in the minors with the Class AA Trenton Thunder and then the Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Due to his hitting prowess, Judge was named to the 2015 All-Star Futures game. A year later, he started the 2016 season with the RailRiders and was named to the International League All-Star Team after hitting 19 home runs and earning 65 RBIs over 93 games. But the fun was just beginning.
His Major League Baseball Career
Eventually, Judge was called up by the Yankees and made his MLB debut on August 13, 2016, against the Tampa Bay Rays in which he got off to a torrid start. In his very first MLB at-bat, All Rise clubbed a 446-foot blast to dead center field. But it didn’t go all to plan: A month later, after just 84 at-bats, Judge was placed on the disabled list.
His season-long rehab certainly did him wonders, though. In 2017, his first full season with the Yankees, Judge shattered expectations and broke records, including Mark McGwire’s MLB rookie home run record (49); he smacked 52 dingers, and one of them went a projected 495 feet, making it the longest shot in Yankee Stadium history. That season, Judge was also named as a starter to the AL All-Star team and became the first rookie to win the Home Run Derby outright.
Judge, who was named the Yankees’ starting right fielder, had another banner season in 2018 by becoming the fastest player in MLB history to hit 60 home runs as well as the fastest player to hit 50 home runs at home. With that unprecedented success, Judge once again was named to the MLB All-Star Game in 2018. Indeed, his future certainly looks bright.
Aaron Judge has fast become one of the most popular players not only among Yankees fans, but also across MLB — just look at the rise in value of Aaron Judge memorabilia as proof.
But while his big bat certainly makes him a standout, so does his considerable frame. At 6-foot-7 and 282 pounds, Judge has the highest BMI of any position player in MLB history.
Back home at Yankee Stadium, fans have dubbed a three-row section in right field “The Judge’s Chambers” — and they show up to games with black robes and foam gavels to see this hulk of a player continue to put on a show and make history.