It’s a matter of time before Gleyber Torres joins the New York Yankees. It was widely reported prior to Spring Training that the New York Yankees were going to go with a couple of their top prospects in the infield. Many fans of the Bronx Bombers, as well as many of the beat reporters, speculated that top prospect Gleyber Torres would occupy second base, while Miguel Andujar would man the hot corner after making his presence felt the year before in limited action. At least this is what General Manager Brian Cashman led everyone to believe.
Little did anyone know, except for the small inner circle of top Yankee officials, which was led by Cashman, was that the Yankees were exploring all options to add more veteran depth to the infield in case one or both of their top prospects had trouble cracking the lineup.
New York would acquire former Arizona Diamondbacks infielder, Brandon Drury, in a three-team trade that included the Tampa Bay Rays prior to Spring Training in February. The Rays would send outfielder Steven Souza Jr. to the Diamondbacks in return for pitcher Anthony Banda, as well as two players to be named. The Yankees would send Tampa one of their best infield prospects in second baseman Nick Solak, while sending the Dbacks minor league pitcher Taylor Widener in exchange for Drury.
Drury, 25, played in 135 games for the Dbacks in 2017. He batted .267 with 13 home runs and 63 runs batted in while mostly playing second base. The former Diamondbacks infielder is better suited for third base, but can play second base as well as the outfield. Despite the addition of the right-handed hitter, the Yankees infield was still in a state of slight disarray.
During the off-season, the Yankees traded away veterans Chase Headley and Starlin Castro to make room for their future prospects. But given the fact that first baseman Greg Bird has yet to play a full-season since exploding on the scene in 2015, it left only shortstop Didi Gregorius as their lone entrenched player in the infield.
As Spring Training got underway, Andujar looked like the future superstar many Yankee fans and scouts believed he would be. However, as Spring Training went on, Andujar began to cool off. It was evident that he could do a better job defensively as well. This meant Drury all but locked down the third base job.
The Yankees other top infield prospect, Gleyber Torres, who is currently ranked the No. 5 prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline, struggled at the plate immediately. It was clear that the 21-year-old future phenom hadn’t shaken off the rust after a nine-month layoff due to Tommy John Surgery. Luckily for New York, they still had the gritty-veteran Ronald Torreyes, as well as another young prospect in Tyler Wade who was opening up eyes with his play at the plate and in the field.
Unfortunately for Torres, his lack of production at the plate, which was undoubtedly caused by the nine-month layoff, forced the Yankees on March 12th to sign veteran infielder and switch-hitter Neil Walker to a one-year, $4 million deal. The next day Torres was optioned to Triple-A to begin the season. Andujar would soon follow in order to improve his defensive skills.
Now with Drury officially penciled in at third base, along with Didi at shortstop, and Bird at first base, all the Yankees new manager Aaron Boone had to decide was which of his infielders would play second base. Even though Tyler Wade was coming off a very solid spring, the .155 batting average he had in 30 games the previous season seemed to convince Boone and the Yankees brass to go with Neil Walker at second base to start the season.
It’s a Matter of Time Before Gleyber Torres Joins the New York Yankees
Given the condition of the Yankees’ injury-plagued roster to begin the season, particularly at first and third, it’d help if Didi Gregorius (.327/.446/.796, six doubles, triple, five home runs, 16 runs batted in, and 12 base-on-balls) wasn’t the only infielder producing. Both Tyler Wade (.094/.171/.156) and Neil Walker (.188/.264/.208) are failing to have even quality at-bats, especially Wade who is 3-for-32 with 11 strikeouts. If Wade’s struggles continue, then it’s a matter of time before Gleyber Torres joins the New York Yankees.
The injury hit-list has claimed Greg Bird for the third year in a row. He has been on the DL since the start of the regular season after undergoing ankle surgery (the same ankle that caused him to miss most of 2017). Then there’s the always injured or nicked up Jacoby Ellsbury. He was shut down in Spring Training due to a hip injury, which he hurt again rehabbing, and now the aging bench player is suffering from plantar fasciitis.
Also, the 25-year-old third baseman that the Yankees acquired from the Dbacks is on the DL as well with migraines. Apparently he’s been dealing with this condition for years, but neglected to inform the organizations that he’s played for until now. The severity of the migraines appears to be serious. They cause Drury’s vision to become blurry, and as of now there’s no timetable for his return.
Given the injury to Drury, the Yankees called up Miguel Andujar. In nine games the young slugger is hitting .194/.231/.333 (7-for-36), with two doubles, one triple, and four runs batted in. However, the stats are a little misleading as Andujar has been swinging the bat much better the last few games.
The Future of Torres
Torres, 21, is a member of the 40-man roster who has not yet made his Major League debut. A call up 20-days after the start of the season would give the Yankees an extra year of control over their top prospect. Delaying Torres’ free agency eligibility by a year would give the Yankees six years of control over Torres’ until 2024-25.
Torres has played in 10 games for the Yankees Triple-A affiliate, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. During that 10-game stretch, Torres hit .385/.405/.564 (15-for-39) with two doubles, one triple, one home run, and 10 runs batted in. Baseball’s 5th ranked prospect is a natural shortstop and second baseman. Although, he has been playing third base in his last seven games. Perhaps he’s preparing for when he does join the Pinstripes, and Aaron Boone needs to do some mixing-and-matching in the infield.
If Andujar starts swinging a productive bat like he appears to be on the verge of, and Torres can come up and provide a spark with his ability to hit the ball to all fields, then maybe Boone can finally get some production from the bottom of his order. Getting quality at-bats from your 7-8-9 hitters could do wonders for setting the table for the Yankees power hitters like Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez.
Gleyber Torres split time between Double-A and Triple-A in 2017. He hurt his left elbow trying to slide into home plate head first, and ultimately required Tommy John Surgery. In 55 games combined between Double-A and Triple-A, Torres hit .287/.383/.480/.863 with 14 doubles, two triples, seven home runs, 34 runs batted in, 31 runs scored, and 30 base-on-balls in 202 at-bats.
Main image credit Embed from Getty Images