(He’s been in the organization for less than a year but Yankees fans are already envisioning the day when Gleyber Torres dons the pinstripes. Could that day come in 2017? Mark J. Rebilas / USA TODAY Sports)
The day has arrived. After two weeks, our series of the Top 15 Yankees Prospects who could help New York this season has reached its end. Before we get into it, I just want to thank you for reading along. I hope I gave you guys some good content and you got to know a little bit about these prospects heading into this season. I look forward to providing you coverage of the RailRiders all season long.
With that, let’s take a look at our No. 1 prospect, Gleyber Torres. Is it really a surprise?
Weight: 175 pounds
40-man roster: No
Torres began 2016 still in the Chicago Cubs’ organization. He reported to High-A Myrtle Beach where he ended 2015 as an 18-year-old. He certainly lived up to his top prospect billing. In 94 games with the Pelicans, he hit .275 with nine home runs, 47 RBIs, 23 doubles, three triples and 42 walks. The Yankees took notice.
On July 25, they dealt closer Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs with Torres being the headliner in return. He reported to High-A Tampa and made his debut the next night and, ironically, went 0 for 5. Still, Torres had a respectable showing with the T-Yanks, hitting .254 with two homers, 19 RBIs, six doubles and two triples in 31 games.
Where Torres really shined, however, was in the Arizona Fall League with the Scottsdale Scorpions. In 18 games, he led the AFL with a whopping .403 (!) batting average, .513 on-base percentage and a 1.158 OPS, while finishing second in slugging percentage (.645). He also had three homers, 11 RBIs, four doubles and 15 runs scored on his way to becoming the youngest player in AFL history to win the MVP award.
Simply put, Torres can do it all. He can run, throw, field and hit for average and power. He’s got a very aggressive approach at the plate but he has a very controlled swing, one that allows him to have good at-bats and not get cheated. He knows the strike zone, has very good plate discipline and will draw a lot of walks.
His quick hands don’t just help him at the plate, too. He’s very good at fielding the ball and getting it out of his glove to make the throw in a timely manner. He also has a quick turn toward the bag on double-play balls. Not too mention, he has great range.
Torres doesn’t have the speed of say Jorge Mateo, but he’s a smart base runner who can be a threat every time he reaches.
The Yankees’ video production team spent time with Torres during the Arizona Fall League. Included are highlights and analysis from teammates, including Greg Bird and James Kaprielian. Torres also breaks down what he feels makes his game so strong.
Here’s a highlight reel from Torres’ time in the Arizona Fall League and when he was still in the Cubs’ organization.
Here’s a look at Torres at the plate during the AFL from multiple views.
Lastly, here’s a look inside Torres’ offseason preparations.
Early in the offseason, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that Torres would begin the season at Double-A Trenton. It was a statement he reiterated even as Torres shined in big league camp. Then on March 21, starting shortstop Didi Gregorius went down with a right shoulder strain that will sideline him until at least May. Immediately, Torres’ name was thrown into the equation as a replacement by fans only to be shot down shortly thereafter by Cashman, who once again said he would start the year in Trenton and nowhere else.
Still, Torres showed signs of greatness this spring. In 19 games, he hit .451 (13 for 29) with two homers, nine RBIs, six doubles, one triple, eight runs and slash lines of .469/.931/1.400. He also earned the Yankees’ James P. Dawson Award, which is given annually to the most outstanding rookie in camp.
Torres will once again play mostly at shortstop but expect to see him play some second base, as well. To me, it would be a stunner if Torres finished the season at Trenton barring injury. I could see him on a fast track to the RailRiders and even New York later this summer. That being said, this will be the biggest test of Torres’ career. The spotlight seemingly has never been brighter and he’s never played in cold weather. It will be interesting to see how he responds.
One National League scout told me that Torres is a star in the making. The Yankees certainly believe so. The question is whether that star will shine in New York? It’s very possible.