Well, it finally happened. News of Gleyber Torres' promotion to the Yankees' major league roster was met by euphoria and excitement all across the Yankees Universe — including the group chat of the writing staff of a certain Yankees community site. Once the initial buzz subsides, however, a pressing question begins to emerge: How will Torres do?
Now, one can interpret this question in two ways. One is, how will Torres do in the long-term? This I can answer with a strong degree of confidence. Torres is going to have a great career. At the tender age of 21, he is the owner of a career .280/.362/.420 slash line across five seasons in the minors. At every level, he was considerably younger than his competition; he managed to post an above-average batting line at every stop. If anything, he only got stronger as he moved up the ranks, as he added considerable power to his game in 2017 (.280/.383/.480 across Double-A and Triple-A).
Every prospect comes with questions, but there are few in regards to Torres' profile. Last year, observers wondered if his season-ending injury and subsequent Tommy John surgery would have any detrimental effect on his play. Eager to please, Torres hit .370/.415/.543 in 13 games this year, putting such concerns to rest. The only question surrounding him is his ability to stick at second base defensively, but given his bat, he would be an above-average regular at third base too. Torres is as close to a sure thing as prospects can get, and his future is as bright as can be.
Enough of his future, though, what of his present? After all, what the Yankees are asking him to do, essentially, is to provide at least league-average production as their starting second baseman in place of Brandon Drury, who is ill, and the disappointing combination of Neil Walker and Tyler Wade. How will Gleyber Torres do this year?
Tyler took a swing at it earlier, but this is a trickier question to answer. Prospects are volatile, and the sizable gap between the competition they face at Triple-A and the majors can make for a rocky transition, even for potential stars. After all, do I need to remind anyone here of Aaron Judge's dismal 2016 debut? For what it's worth, the projection system Steamer, ever so conservative, thinks such concerns apply to Torres as well. It pegs him for a .245/.315/.381 batting line in 2018.
There's reason for a bit more optimism regarding Torres' outlook for 2018, however. One is the trajectory of his minor league career. As mentioned before, Torres has posted an above-average batting line at every level in the minor leagues. That means he has adapted smoothly and quickly to higher levels of competition. This is in contrast to, say, Aaron Judge's minor league career, who struggled for a half-season at Triple-A in 2015 before coming back to annihilate it in 2016. Torres has already shown that he can climb the ladder with ease. Why can't he do the same between Triple-A and MLB?
It would be unfair for Yankee fans, spoiled by the recent All-Star performances of former top prospects like Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino, and Judge to demand that Torres should join their ranks from the get-go. At the same time, they should be confident in Torres' chances to be a credible major league starter, or at least be a better hitter than Wade has been. Torres belongs in the bigs, and he's going to be here for a long time.