Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Brett M. Gardner (born August 24, 1983 in Holly Hill, South Carolina) is an American Major League Baseball outfielder for the New York Yankees.
Gardner, who is 5' 10", plays center field and bats and throws left-handed. In 2007, he was the 10th rated prospect in the Yankees minor league system according to Base America
Gardner was a walk-on and three-year starter at the College of Charleston (CofC). In 2004, he was a Southern Conference All Star. His .447 batting average was third in the nation in 2005, and his 122 hits tied for the most hits in the country. His 85 runs in 2005 is the all-time record at CofC, and his 38 stolen bases led the Southern Conference. He wrapped up his Cougar career as a third team All-American and Southern Conference all-star, sporting a .382/.456/.508 career line, mostly from the lead-off spot.
He was drafted in the 3rd round in 2005 by the Yankees after his junior year, and received a $210,000 bonus.
Gardner adjusted well to wood bats in 2005, and finished the season in the New York-Penn League season ranking 5th in at bats (with 282), 2nd in runs (62), and 5th in stolen bases (19).
He was a Florida State League all star in 2006, batting .323 in 63 games with 22 RBIs with the Tampa Yankees. He was 3rd in the Florida State League in batting average, and led the league in stolen bases with 30. Gardner also was second in the league in walks with 47.
In 2007, he played 54 games for the Double-A Trenton Thunder, though he missed time with a broken bone in his hand. In 203 at bats, he stole 18 bases (tied for 5th in the league; while being caught 4 times), hit 5 triples, and batted .300 with a .392 OBP, before being promoted to Scranton/Wilkes Barre. There, in 45 games he batted .260 with a .343 OBP, and stole 21 bases while being caught only 3 times.
Through 2007 in the minor leagues, he has a .288 batting average, .381 obp, and .374 slugging percentage. He has stolen 114 bases, and been caught 22 times.
In the fall of 2007, he played in 26 games in the Arizona Fall League, leading it runs (27) and in stolen bases with 16, while being caught only once. He batted .343 (5th in the league) with a .433 obp (3rd), and was 3rd in the league in walks (17).
Playing for the Triple-A Scranton Wilkes Barre Yankees in 2008, in 94 games Gardner was 2nd in the International League with a .414 on base percentage, 70 walks, and 11 triples, and 6th in the IL with 37 stolen bases while being caught only 9 times.
New York Yankees (2008-present)
On June 30, 2008, Gardner was called up and made his major league debut, batting lead-off and going 0 for 3 with a stolen base. On July 2, he got both his first hit and first RBI off fellow rookie, Texas Rangers relief pitcher Warner Madrigal, in the seventh inning. Gardner went on to steal second and eventually score in that inning. On July 6, 2008, Gardner started in left field in place of the injured Johnny Damon. He went 2 for 5, including a two-out, game-winning single up the middle off of Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon.
On July 26, 2008, Gardner was optioned back to AAA after the acquisition of Xavier Nady, in order to continue to receive playing time.
On August 15, 2008, Gardner was called back up to the big leagues
On August 16, 2008, Gardner in his second game after being called up went 3-5 with a double and two singles, including a game-winning single with which he knocked in Robinson Cano in the bottom of the 13th against the Kansas City Royals. It was Gardner's second walk-off hit as a Yankee. His first was on July 6, 2008 against the Boston Red Sox again scoring Robinson Cano in the bottom of the 10th.
On September 21, 2008, Gardner scored the final run of Major League Baseball in Yankee Stadium history as a pinch runner for Jason Giambi, scoring on a sacrifice fly by Cano in the seventh inning of an eventual 7-3 win for the Yankees over the Baltimore Orioles.
On February 25, 2009 he hit the first home run of spring training. He was leading off and hit it his first at bat.
Gardner's legs are his strength. He's the fastest baserunner in the organization, has 80 speed on a 20-80 scale, and has solid baserunning instincts. He's adept at picking spots, knowing when it's more valuable to the team for him to use the threat of a stolen base to get the pitcher to throw fastballs to the heart of the order.
He has outstanding plate discipline, draws a good number of walks, and uses the whole field while making consistent, hard contact. Baseball America rated him as having the best strike zone discipline in the Yankees minor league system after the close of the 2006 season.
His speed and excellent sense in the outfield translate to an outstanding defensive game, among the best in the Yankee farm system. His arm is average, though fairly accurate.
On March 14, 2008, Yankee Manager Joe Girardi said of Gardner: “He’s an exciting player. He creates havoc.”
Brett and his wife Jessica had their first son, Thomas Hunter, on November 21st, 2008.