Ronald Torreyes: The story of the Yankees starting short stop
Ronald Alcides Torreyes Solorsano, better known to baseball fans simply as Ronald Torreyes, has been one of the many key players for the Yankees’ early season success. He was named the opening day shortstop when Didi Gregorius was injured during the World Baseball Classic. He is tied with slugger Aaron Judge and the red-hot Starlin Castro for the team lead in RBIs and is fresh off a four-hit performance in Saturday’s game against the Pirates, which included a go ahead two-run double. His grit and grind style of play and powerful presence, despite his small stature, has made him a fun player to watch and a pivotal member of the Bombers. While Joe Girardi has already confirmed that Didi is their starting shortstop when he returns, Torreyes’ accomplishments did not go unnoticed and he will continue to see at-bats and field time at second, third, and short. So, how did Torreyes get to where he is today?
Born in Venezuela, Torreyes was originally signed as an international free agent by the Cincinnati Reds in 2010 when he was still seventeen years old. He made an immediate impact hitting .370 and stealing twenty-five bases between A-ball and two rookie leagues. He spent all of 2011 with Class-A, again hitting for a high average and flashing speed. On May 12, 2012, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs along with Travis Wood and David Sappelt for reliever Sean Marshall. Torreyes was then assigned to Class-A advanced where his stats started to dip below his minor-league averages, and he finished the season with a .264 average. After the 2012 season, he became a minor-league journeyman.
In July of 2013, Torreyes was traded to the Houston Astros for two international signing bonus slots. He was assigned to the AA team in Corpus Christi where he hit .278. The Astros then promoted him to AAA for the 2014 season where he had arguably his best minor league season since he broke into the Reds’ minor-league system. He set a new minor-league career high with 137 hits and batted .298. In 2015, he was invited to MLB spring training but did not make the roster and was assigned to once again play for the AAA ball club. He got off to a slow start in an organization that was loaded with infield talent and was subsequently traded in May to the Toronto Blue Jays, for cash considerations. Their front office assigned him to the AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats where his struggles continued. He was batting .140 when he was once again traded. This time it was to the Los Angeles Dodgers for none other than cash considerations.
Being traded three times in one season in any sport can be frustrating for a player, especially young kids trying to find their niche on an MLB team. The trade to Los Angeles, however, would be Torreyes’s first crack in the majors. After hitting .293 and .306 between AA and AAA respectively, Torreyes was a September call up for a Dodgers team that was in the thick of the playoff race. While his role was primarily as a pinch-runner and late-inning defensive replacement, it was still Major League Baseball. In limited opportunity, Torreyes would go on to record his first big-league hit and a double. He did not make the Dodgers postseason roster and wounded up being designated for assignment on January 7, 2016.
The Dodgers worked out a deal with the New York Yankees to ship Torreyes along with Tyler Olson to the Big Apple in exchange for minor leaguer Rob Segedin. Torreyes was eventually designated for assignment when the Yankees acquired Lane Adams and claimed by the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels would designate him for assignment two days after they claimed him, and on February 1, 2016 he was reclaimed by the Bombers. He was invited to Yankees camp and was among competitors for the Yankees utility man. He would eventually win the spot on the Yankees opening day roster, beating out Rob Refsnyder and Pete Kozma. Refsynder would bounce back and forth between AAA and the Yankees, while Kozma spent the entirety of 2016 with Scranton.
Torreyes provided the Yankees with steady defense, hustle, and the will to do whatever he could do to help the team. He recorded his first Yankees hit in exciting fashion, lacing a two-run triple off of his former ball club, the Houston Astros. His first major-league home run came against the other team that had claimed him the previous winter, the Angels. His offensive numbers were not eye-shattering, but he did his job and earned the respect of many Yankees fans.
He came into spring training with a pretty solid grasp on the same role he was given the previous season, but everything changed when Didi Gregorius was sidelined until May with an injury during the World Baseball Classic. With Pete Kozma and Ruben Tejada being the only experienced shortstops in camp and the Yankees front office’s insistence on keeping prospects Tyler Wade and Gleyber Torres in the farm system for more seasoning, the starting shortstop job was Torreyes’s. Torreyes was for the most part expected to be just a fill-in and have minimal impact until Didi’s return.
An article posted on FanRag Sports prior to opening day had this to say about Torreyes: “Torreyes figures to have a minor impact on the Yankees offense this season. He’s a career .261 hitter, having notched just a single home run and 13 RBIs in his 80 games in the majors.”
Torreyes took his starting nod to the next level. He hit the first home run for the Yankees in 2017 and has already surpassed his previous season’s totals in most offensive categories in only one-third of the at-bats. He has played solid defense, having yet to commit an error, and has only struck out five times. He has been a sparkplug at the bottom of the batting order, constantly putting the ball in play when he hits with runners in scoring position. He is batting .286 with runners in scoring position and is hitting .500, when he is up to bat in a game with a tied score.
Ronald Torreyes is a vital member of the Yankees and has exceeded everyone’s expectations in terms of production in this young season. While his days as the starting shortstop are numbered, he has earned every right to be the first man to be called upon if another infield injury occurs. The Yankees would not be off to the start they are currently enjoying without Torreyes.
Article by: Ryan Thoms