When Gleyber Torres arrived to spring training last February, all eyes fixed on the young infielder. Fresh off an Arizona Fall League that saw him capture the Most Valuable Player award, fans and evaluators alike wanted to see the top prospect in action. There was no shortage of buzz surrounding his Grapefruit League debut.
Torres didn’t disappoint, either. He wowed everyone in attendance, hitting .448/.469/.931 with two home runs over 19 games. It was an electric showing for the 20-year-old. While he didn’t break camp with the club, he caught everyone’s attention. His showing solidified his status as one of the top prospects in all of baseball.
The Yankees assigned Torres to Double-A Trenton, for what essentially was a tuneup. The wunderkind tore through the Eastern League, hitting .273/.367/.496 across 32 games. He launched five home runs as well, resulting in a 138 wRC+. It took about a month to show that the spring training performance was no fluke.
His strong showing earned him a quick promotion to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. There, Torres continued his hot hitting, authoring a .309/.406/.457 batting line across 23 games. He even slugged a pair of home runs. These numbers jump off the page even more considering Torres was nearly seven years younger than the average player in the International League. It’s no exaggeration to say he was knocking down the door.
Unfortunately, things came to a screeching halt on June 17th. Torres suffered a season ending UCL tear to his non-throwing arm during a play at the plate. He required Tommy John surgery, but thankfully there’s an expedited rehab process for position players. He missed the rest of the year, but is ready to go for spring training.
The injury stings even more when one considers how quickly he could have helped the big league team. The Yankees went without Starlin Castro for a significant portion of the summer. It’s fair to assume that a healthy Torres would have covered for him. Imagine how much fun it would have been to have him play down the stretch? It could have been a real jolt in the arm.
The good news, however, is that Torres is ready for spring training. He’s already hitting and fielding. He looks primed to make another splash. It’s very possible that his injury shortened-year will just be a setback, a speed bump on his way to the majors.
After long months of recovery I can finally hit again and that makes me super happy. Now let's keep working and keep improving pic.twitter.com/TYSSEj0Cvo— Gleyber Torres (@TorresGleyber) October 18, 2017
What’s next for Torres? It’s not out of the question that he breaks camp with the team. “I'd say let's see what we see in the spring,” Brian Cashman told reporters earlier this month. “I know last year, coaching staff included, was saying 'This guy is ready to go,' and we said, 'No, no, no.' He hadn't played above A-ball yet. Obviously that has changed so he is in a better position now than he was I think a year ago, but he was coming off of an injury and won't have played competitive baseball until the exhibition games start since whenever the injury happened. We'll see what it looks like."
Wherever he winds up, one thing’s clear: Torres had a spectacular 2017. The injury slowed down his arrival, but the results spoke for themselves. He’s a dynamic talent, very worthy of being the number one overall prospect in baseball.