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Baseball: Judge among top returning hitters in Bulldogs’ lineup

By | February 15, 2013 | Sports
Junior Aaron Judge, winner of the 2012 TD Ameritrade College Home Run Derby, and the Fresno State baseball team make their Mountain West Conference debut this season. Dalton Runberg / The Collegian

Junior Aaron Judge, winner of the 2012 TD Ameritrade College Home Run Derby, and the Fresno State baseball team make their Mountain West Conference debut this season. Dalton Runberg / The Collegian

The awards and accolades kept rolling in for Fresno State centerfielder Aaron Judge.

Since winning the 2012 TD Ameritrade College Home Run Derby, Judge has turned many heads with the power not many knew he had.

Judge has been selected to three preseason All-American teams by Baseball America, Perfect Game and by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.

Mountain West Conference coaches voted Judge a preseason first-team selection.

Here is what Baseball America had to say about Judge: “Judge’s combination of size (6-foot-7, 255 pounds) and athleticism is so unusual for a baseball player that the comparison scouts make most is to NBA star Blake Griffin. With his leverage and strength, Judge can hit tape-measure shots most players only can dream of. He homered just four times as a sophomore, but he went deep twice in one game against [Stanford’s Mark] Appel in March and won the TD Ameritrade college home run derby in July. A righthanded hitter, Judge still is figuring himself out as a hitter, gets tied up by quality inside fastballs and is overly selective at the plate.

“He draws walks but lets too many hittable pitches go by. Judge has solid speed and arm strength, and he’ll probably move from center field in college to right field as a pro.”

Judge did hit just four home runs during his sophomore season, but he had 14 doubles and two triples to give him 20 extra-base hits on the season.

He also drew a team-high 48 walks, which is a number Fresno State coach Mike Batesole hopes drops this season because of added protection in the lineup.

“Judge is playing outstanding in centerfield,” Batesole said. “He’s an outstanding base runner. Offensively, he’s going to hit in the middle of the order. We’ve got some guys this year I think can protect him well where he’s going to get some pitches. He’s not going to get 48 walks like he had last year. I think that’s going to make his numbers increase just by that right there. And I like the guys that are hitting around him.”

But it would appear as if Judge is not worried about all the attention he has been getting. He seems anxious to lace up the cleats and get on the field.

The Bulldogs open the 2013 season at Beiden Field at 6:35 p.m. Friday against U.C. Santa Barbara.

“I’m looking forward to just going out there and playing some ball again,” Judge said. “It’s been a while. So just going out there, having some fun and playing some ball.”

The Bulldogs are entering their first season in the Mountain West Conference. A year after finishing just 8-10 in the Western Athletic Conference and 31-28 overall, Mountain West coaches picked the Bulldogs to finish fourth in the conference.

“We’re just trying to get out there and make a statement,” Judge said. “We’ve got a pretty young team. We’ve got a lot of talent. So we’re just trying to go out there and make a statement and just play our ball.”

Judge says he and his team are ready to get the season started.

“Practice has been a little more intense these past few weeks,” Judge said. “We’re just trying to get ready, get fired up for that first game against Santa Barbara.”

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