No player under the age of 21 in Arizona Fall Leauge history has ever led the league in batting average, but Gleyber Torres is on a mission to re-write the books.
It has been long documented Torres was the coveted player in the Aroldis Chapman deal with the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs had to go all in to win a World Series for the first time in 108 years. The Yankees needed to move ahead with the future. Now, Torres is part of a beaming future in New York.
It was a tough choice for Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer to make the move, but it was a move the team felt necessary to end the drought. “He’s a terrific player,” Hoyer said. “It was a difficult decision for us.”
Not so much a difficult move for New York due to the benefits they already see with Torres. Not to mention the team is in play to sign Chapman this offseason.
With a reunion potentially in sight for the closer and the Yankees, the future is still the most prominent on the minds of Yankee management.
At 19 years old, the young infielder is turning heads (and double plays) every time he steps on the field this fall. He owns the league’s best batting average and on-base percentage at .379 and .500 respectively – all in 17 games.
Torres has been named the AFL Week Five Player of the Week after hitting .600 (9-15) with two extra-base hits and three runs scored. He also swiped two bags and picked up a pair of walks in four games. This is the second time the AFL’s leading bat has taken home Player of the Week honors this year.
Signed at the age of 16 for $1.7 million in July of 2013, Torres is climbing the ladder as one of the top prospects in baseball. “Not your lean classic angly body [for that position],” one opposing team scout covering the AFL said of the 6-1, 175-pound shortstop. “But very, very good hands and feet. Can really hit a fastball.”
The plate discipline has not gone unnoticed either. The prospect has just seven strikeouts in 58 at-bats. Add 14 walks (third in the AFL) and he is showing maturity at the plate.
It is not just scouts marveling over how well Torres is playing. Teammate James Kaprielian has high praise for the shortstop. “There’s no way he’s 19,” Kaprielian said. “He’s smart, he’s got savvy. It’s unbelievable, to be honest, for a 19-year -old to be playing the way he does. He plays with confidence.”
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has not been afraid to voice his take on the young shortstop either. “He’s doing everything that would make you smile at this point,” Cashman said. The Yankees are smiling from one cheekbone to the other, and realize Torres still has plenty of room to grow.
Torres played the entire 2016 campaign in High-A, batting to a slash line of .270/.354/.421 including 11 home runs. He showcased speed as well, swiping 21 bases despite being nearly four years younger than the average player in the league.
Fast forward to this year in the AFL, the soon-to-be 20-year-old (celebrating a birthday on December 13th) has three home runs and 10 RBI’s.
There is plenty of time for Torres to gain experience in the minors. The Yankees have depth in the majors with Didi Gregorious and Starlin Castro manning the middle infield. But one has to be excited about where the Yankees future is heading with players like him in the farm system waiting for his chance to burst onto the scene in New York.