2016 Statistics: 125 G, 547 PA, .270/.354/.421, 11 HR, 21 SB, 110 K/58 BB
2017 Roster Status: Double-A/Non-40
This year the Yankees went big on prospect acquisitions, adding several promising players to their farm system in exchange for a collection of veteran talent. In the trade that sent Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs, the Yankees received shortstop Gleyber Torres. Despite just a small amount of time spent with his new organization, it’s clear that the 19-year-old shortstop is now one of the team’s best prospects.
2016 was just his third year in professional baseball, and at the time of the deal, Torres had put together his best season yet. He hit .275/.359/.433 in 94 games, and saw a big jump in his power numbers, achieving career highs in home runs and doubles by the month of August. His numbers dipped a bit after making the move to Tampa, but we shouldn’t be too worried about that. His quick right-handed swing has helped him develop an all-fields approach, and he should see more power as he learns to pull the ball to his advantage.
Torres is noted for having a very mature approach at the plate, which has helped his walk rate and on base skills throughout his career. We saw good signs in 2016 as he improved his walk rate from the previous year. In 2015, he walked an underwhelming 8.4% of the time, but in 2016 that number jumped to 10.3% with the Cubs, and then 11.6% with the Yankees. He has plenty of time, but if he can then limit his strikeout rate to below 21%, things will look really good for him going forward.
Some found it curious that the Yankees would even add another shortstop prospect when they already have Jorge Mateo. However, this should not be thought of as an issue because it’s a great idea to accumulate as much talent as possible and allow things to shake out down the line. As impressive as Mateo might be, it’s important to remember that Torres has been the more highly regarded player so far, ranking as high as the No. 28 prospect in baseball. He also spent the year in High-A at the age of 19, while Mateo was at the same level at 21.
The one thing Mateo might have over Torres is defensive capabilities. While Mateo is generally considered a future middle infielder, Torres’ position is a little more questionable. He has average range, but makes up for it with great instincts and a strong arm. Torres will certainly stay at the position long term, though he will likely spend some time at second base in order to accommodate Mateo. If Torres ultimately changes positions, he is projected to profile strongly as either a second baseman or third baseman, thanks to his strong bat.
Torres is currently beating up pitching in the Arizona Fall League, which is an excellent way to close out a promising first season in the Yankees farm system. Because of the graduation of Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge, Torres is now the team’s No. 2 prospect. Steady development should produce a reliable staple in the Yankees’ lineup for years to come.