Laird A Natural Hitter

Everybody believes in his bat

As an amateur, scouts debated where Brandon Laird would play defensively at the professional level and it's one of the reasons he fell all the way to the 27th round. Ask anybody who has seen him play extensively however and the first thing inevitably mentioned is how he can flat-out hit.

While the likes of Austin Romine, Carmen Angelini, Bradley Suttle, Chase Weems, and Taylor Grote grabbed the draft-day headlines among the Yankees' positional prospects this past season, somehow Brandon Laird got overlooked among the fans prior to the start of the short-season leagues, probably because he was selected so late.

Ask the Yankees' brass however and his offensive potential was never in doubt among those in the know.

"Oh I think so," Damon Oppenheimer said if Laird could be every bit as good as any of the 2007 draft picks offensively. "If you look at our area scout's report on him, we shouldn't be surprised. He said he could hit. [Staten Island] coach Gillespie said he could hit. Demarest, Pickler - everybody said he could hit."

Dave Demarest, formerly of La Quinta High School, knows a thing or two about baseball after coaching current big leaguers Bobby Crosby, Ian Stewart, Ian Kennedy, and Gerald Laird, Brandon's older brother and current big league catcher for the Texas Rangers.

"He wasn't a high draft pick, but a good friend of mine, Mike Gillespie, who coached Staten Island this year," said Demarest, "he said he tried to get him up to Staten Island but they wanted Brandon down there [in the Gulf Coast League] and he did real good."

That might be an understatement as Laird finished with a team-high .339 batting average with the Gulf Coast League Yankees - good for fifth in the league - and led the club in home runs with eight, tying for third in the league in that category.

"It's not the bat only," Demarest said of the younger Laird, "but it's the one tool where you go 'wow'. People around Brandon are not shocked he did that well. He's never not been good. The bat is going to get him to the big leagues."

Laird's college coach, Scott Pickler, has had thirteen different players from his college program make it to the big leagues and he believes Laird is as good as anybody offensively who has ever played for him.

"I think he's got a chance, there's no doubt. He's going to hit at any level he goes to - I really do think that," Pickler said emphatically. "There hasn't been a level yet where they've proved he can't hit."

Throw in GCL Yankees' manager Jody Reed into the mix of former coaches who have the utmost faith in Laird's bat after watching him for 45 games this past season, stating that he too believes he will hit at every level.

"It makes me feel good and not worry so much about my hitting," Laird said when he hears coaches say he can hit at any level. "I know I'm going to hit wherever I go.

"I know I'm going to hit for average and that makes me want to make my weaknesses better like my defense, concentrate more on defense. I know my bat is going to be there for me so why not get better in the field and make it all come together."

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