In the midst of spring training, it was evident that prized farmhand Gleyber Torres still needed some time to shake off the rust from a season-ending injury. Time to acclimate himself to an old routine and environment. Time to simply breathe.
However, it appears the 21-year-old infielder, who is ranked No. 5 on MLBPipeline’s Top Prospects list, only needed to play a week’s worth of Minor League games — to be exact, just five — to reclaim the spotlight.
Since the start of Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s regular season (April 6), Torres has slashed .348/.348/.565 with a home run and four RBI in 23 at-bats. Last Sunday, he went 4-for-5 with a stolen base against Syracuse (Nationals), and the following day, he added a triple against Lehigh Valley (Phillies).
Of course, Torres’ hot start at the plate isn’t substantial — the sample size is rather small. But it’s an encouraging sign for the Yankees, since the club is approaching Friday, April 13 — the day that teams can promote touted prospects with no Big League experience and gain that extra year of control.
Even though the service time cutoff is just a few days away, it doesn’t mean that the Yankees will call on Torres. Granted, he’s only accumulated a month’s worth of plate appearances — as well as time shared between shortstop and third base.
But Triple-A manager Bobby Mitchell seems confident that the Venezuelan native will soon make an impact in the Bronx. Whenever that time comes.
“I think if they called him up, he could definitely compete up there now,” Mitchell told Conor Foley of The Scranton Times-Tribune. “There’s just certain things for him to become the player that he wants to become and can become. Things that he needs to refine and get better at. But, it’s not about just hitting when you go up there. It’s about whole, every aspect of the game that you need to try to master. And he’s trying and he’s doing a great job and he’s moving right along.
“I mean, he’s not far, obviously. I think, if they called him up, I think he’d be fine. He’d probably learn on the fly.”
If all went according to plan last summer, Torres would’ve likely seen the Majors. But in mid-June, he injured his left elbow while sliding head-first into home plate, and ultimately needed Tommy John surgery. That incident alone cost him months of experience and training. It was why Brian Cashman made sure to regulate Torres’ offseason rehab in Tampa.
A risky slide delayed his progress and development, and the Yankees relayed that message to Torres.
“We’ve made it perfectly clear to him and I don’t think he’ll ever slide headfirst again. I don’t,” Mitchell told Foley.
At the moment, the Yankees could find an opening for Torres in the infield. Starting third baseman Brandon Drury is on the disabled list with severe migraines, and his status is still unknown. The club is heavily relying on rookies Miguel Andujar and Tyler Wade at third and second base, and veteran infielder Neil Walker has seen split time at second and first.
The Yankees are bruised and banged-up. Would promoting Torres ignite some sort of spark? Perhaps it would. The worst case scenario is that he struggles against Big League arms and is sent back down for more work. The best case scenario is that he proves to be ready. The takeaway: the Yankees really can’t lose here.
Regardless, the Yankees won’t be able to take their eyes off of Torres, who is inching another day closer to his inevitable debut.