The Yankees signed Luis Torrens as a 16-year-old out of Venezuela in 2012. Torrens was one of the most highly-regarded international players at the time, which netted him a signing bonus of $1.3 million from the Yankees. At the time of the signing, Torrens was a raw hitter who had only recently converted to catcher, but the Yankees still opted to bring him stateside in his first season as a pro. He spent 2013 as a 17-year-old with the Gulf Coast League Yankees, where he hit an unexciting .241/.348/.299.
The Yankees were aggressive with Torrens again in 2014. Torrens opened the year with Class-A Charleston, but his stint in the Sally League lasted all of nine games after he suffered a shoulder injury on April 15th. Torrens spent the next two months rehabbing his shoulder before joining the the Short Season-A Staten Island Yankees in June. The 18-year-old broke out in Staten Island, hitting an impressive .270/.327/.405 . Although he excelled at the plate, Torrens looked a little shaky behind it, allowing a slightly-alarming 18 passed balls in 52 games. He did, however, showcase his plus throwing arm by gunning down 37% of would-be base stealers.
KATOH, my prospect projection system, is polarized on Torrens. On the one hand, it gives him a better than 50% chance of never appearing in a major league game. Yet at the same time, it respects his upside by giving him an 8% chance of eclipsing the 16 WAR mark. Taking all of this all into account, KATOH comes away with an expected production of 3 WAR through age 28, which makes him the #166th highest projection among players with at least 200 plate appearances or batters faced last year.
The top-heaviness of Torrens' projection is driven almost entirely be the fact that he's so low on the minor league ladder. Its just very hard to predict what a player that far away from the majors might become. On the one hand, most of today's stars look a lot like Torrens does now: A player who has acquitted himself well in the low minors despite being young for his league. But at the same time, most players who look like Torrens really pan out. Here's a look at Torrens' odds of reaching certain WAR thresholds through age 28:
Torrens should get another crack at Class-A Charleston this year, where at 19, he'll still be very young for the league. It will be interesting to see how much of Torrens' power ends up carrying over into next year. He managed a measly 8 extra-base hits in 2013 as a 17-year-old in Rookie ball, but hit 18 this year with Staten Island in just as many games.
On defense, Torrens has more than enough arm strength to be a plus catcher, but as a recently-converted infielder, he's still working out the finer points of receiving. He will certainly be one to watch in full season ball this year, and his performance with Charleston should give us a better idea of how likely he is to become the Yankees catcher of the future. Torrens still has quite a bit of developing to left to do on both sides of the ball, but the potential's definitely there.