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Ronald Torreyes could be a Yankee for quite awhile

Torreyes’ youth and ability could make him a valuable bench contributor to the team’s present and future.

Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

In August, Ronald Torreyes appeared in 13 games, had 34 plate appearances, and completed the month with a 1.189 OPS and 23 total bases. That superb work, along with Gary Sanchez’s otherworldly start and strong production from Starlin Castro, helped to propel the Yankees to a 17-10 record the month after selling at the trade deadline.

What makes Torreyes’ August performance all the more impressive is that prior to getting a start at third base against the Angels on August 19, Torreyes only had six official at-bats to his credit since the start of the month. Like a true bench asset though, he came prepared to play, and contributed stellar defense to his hot hitting.

Torreyes has appeared at every infield position save first base in 2016, and he even made a brief appearance in right field. He is the consummate utility player, a role that every team must fill with seven-man relief corps becoming increasingly common and the subsequent limitation of roster spots on the bench. Torreyes just turned 24 years old, making him three months older than Gary Sanchez, and four months younger than Aaron Judge.

Prior to the 2016 season, Torreyes had appeared in just eight games with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015, and accumulated a .762 OPS over 2,578 plate appearances across six minor league campaigns. Taken together, Torreyes’ past performance suggests that he is likely not the All Star he played like in August, but that he may not have reached his ceiling as a ballplayer either. At 24, in what qualifies as his rookie campaign, Torreyes has been effective in limited action, which is not easy to do -- just ask Aaron Hicks.

During their run of four World Series victories in five seasons between 1996 and 2000, the Yankees employed another Venezuelan utility man by the name of Luis Sojo. Sojo, affectionately referred to as “Señor Baseball,” was a part of all four world championship teams during that era, and a reliable contributor off the bench despite never receiving more than 239 plate appearances in a season during his time with the Yankees. Sojo subbed for all four infield positions as well as left field during his tenure with the Yankees, and was a fixture on the roster although his career OPS was just .650. Sojo was joined on the bench at times by Tim Raines and Homer Bush, who were also both valuable parts of those teams.

Does Torreyes have a long-term future with the Yankees in a utility role? At this stage in his career it is too soon to say much about how Torreyes projects given his limited time on the field, but there are two indicators that suggest that Torreyes could become a fixture on the roster as Sojo once was. First, although the chief responsibility of any good utility man is to be able to adequately field multiple positions, Torreyes has already displayed a good deal more promise at the plate than Sojo did throughout his time with the Yankees. In addition, while Torreyes has only stolen one base this season, he did swipe 72 bags as a minor leaguer, making him far more of a threat on the base-paths than Sojo (he stole just 28 bases in his 13 year MLB career).

Second, the Yankees, like every other team in baseball, will continue to have a need for a super sub, particularly given their propensity for carrying seven relievers. Rob Refsnyder has also filled a utility role for the Yankees in 2016, contributing at first base, second base, right field, and left field. However, at least in the infield, Torreyes is a far more capable defender, and he can fill in at shortstop and third base, whereas Refsnyder has no experience at shortstop and minimal time at the hot corner.

So while players like Sanchez, Judge, Refsnyder, and Tyler Austin might grab more attention as rookie standouts, do not be surprised if Torreyes has considerable staying power on the Yankees’ roster in the midst of the team’s youth movement. Torreyes is young, adds value through a concrete role, and his best baseball is likely still ahead of him.