2018 Pinstripe Preview: Gleyber Torres
As part of our lead-up to the 2018 Major League Baseball season, the BBB has been rolling out previews for each player on the Yankees' 40-man roster. Today's preview focuses on MLB's number five overall prospect, New York's number one overall prospect, and starting second baseman hopeful, Torres.
Since being acquired back in 2016 in the trade that sent Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs, Torres has been well regarded across Major League Baseball and 2018 is almost assuredly the year he gets his shot at the Major Leagues. Still just 21 years old, he has an ultra-bright future and hopes to take the leap from prospect to MLB stud this season.
Still thought of as a few years away from making any MLB impact heading into Spring Training last year, Torres quickly changed the script and nearly made the Yankees' 25-man roster out of camp after compiling a ridiculous .448/.469/.931 triple-slash line. New York ultimately made the wise choice to send him to the minors for further development, but he was on the fast track to eventually seeing himself in pinstripes with the club.
Torres began the season with Double-A Trenton but was promoted to Triple-A after just 32 games. In his time with the Thunder, Torres hit .273/.367/.496 with five home runs, 18 runs batted in and 16 total extra bases. He also stole five bases in nine attempts.
Once he made it to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, he impressed all the more. In 23 games with the , Torres hit a robust .306/.406/.457. He did, however, strike out in almost one-third of his at-bats (26 of 81), however, keep in mind how difficult it is for a kid his age to perform at the highest level of the minors after a mid-season promotion from Double-A.
Torres' season was unfortunately cut short on June 18th, when the Yankees placed him on the seven-day disabled list with discomfort in his elbow after a head-first slide into home plate. An MRI later confirmed the worst – that Torres had torn the Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) in his left (non-throwing) elbow and required season-ending Tommy John Surgery to repair the injury.
Torres enters camp this year as one of the favorites for the starting second baseman job, however, New York will likely opt to play it safe with their number one overall prospect as he recovers from last season's injury. Torres, assuming he makes it through camp healthy, should start the season with the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre further development in the minors before he sees major league action. Keep in mind he played only 23 games at the highest level of the minors last season, so the additional reps should do him well before he is ultimately called up, presumably to stake his claim as the Yankees' second baseman of the future.
Keeping Torres in the minors will also have contractual implications for the youngster and the Yankees, similar to what the Chicago Cubs did with Kris Bryant three years ago. By keeping him in the minors until April 15th or later, the Yankees can effectively ensure Torres does not qualify for "Super Two" status after the 2019 season. Essentially, keeping him in the minors for the first two-to-three weeks of the 2018 season garners New York a full extra year of team control over a player they believe will be a cornerstone piece for a future dynasty.
While there is a chance he absolutely lights up the Grapefruit league over the next four weeks and forces New York's hand into an early promotion, the acquisition of Brandon Drury – alongside New York's existing depth in the infield in Ronald and Tyler Wade - provides the added depth and security the Yankees need to get through the first month of the season without Torres. In all likelihood, Torres should make his Major League debut in late April or early May. Torres is poised to be the Yankees' next young star alongside Luis Severino, Gary Sanchez & Aaron Judge as the team sets its sights on World Championship #28 in 2018.
Article by: Andrew Natalizio