Meet Gleyber Torres, the New York Yankees’ latest star-in-waiting – Yankees Blog

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NEW YORK — It took 37 seconds for Gleyber Torres to do something Sunday afternoon he and so many between here and Caracas, Venezuela, had been anticipating for years.

It began with a purposeful march from Yankee Stadium’s home on-deck circle to the batter’s box. As soon as he reached his destination, with his head down, the young hitter scratched and swept at the dirt with both feet before stepping back out.

As he did, an already loud ovation grew as the New York Yankees faithful got their first glimpse of a potential up-and-coming superstar.

At last, the first pitch of the 21-year-old Torres’ major league career — an 89.4 mph four-seam fastball from Toronto Blue Jays lefty Jaime Garcia — arrived. Swing and a miss. Strike one.

Although the MLB debut of one of the game’s most highly touted prospects resulted in an 0-for-4 performance that included stranding six runners, Torres felt one overriding emotion after the game.

“Super happy,” he said.

Monday night, Torres can carry those good feelings into his second game, as the Yankees host the Minnesota Twins. Before his second game in pinstripes, here’s an introduction to a ballplayer who isn’t a household name. Yet.

Impressive from the start

Five years ago this month, Torres was a teenager with big league dreams, and although few outside of baseball had heard of him, many of those invested in the sport had. To them, he had the tools to make it — and quickly.

Heading into the summer of 2013, Torres was tabbed the No. 2 prospect in the international players pool.

When the Venezuela-born infielder signed with the Chicago Cubs as a non-drafted free agent that July, he was about five months shy of his 17th birthday.

In his first year in the Cubs organization, Torres batted .297 as a member of the Arizona League Cubs and the short-season Class A Boise Hawks. He appeared in seven games with the Hawks that year, reaching base in all seven.

His .297 average was one of the best among Cubs minor leaguers that year. Remember, this was a system on the rise, still two years away from graduating players who’d key a run to the Cubs’ first World Series title since 1908.

Chicago’s minor leagues in 2014 boasted the likes of current stars Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber, Addison Russell and Kris Bryant.

The prize of the Chapman trade

But by the time Baez, Schwarber, Russell and Bryant led the Cubs to that World Series title in 2016, Torres was gone.

Earlier that summer, roughly three years after he signed with the Cubs, Torres was shipped to the Yankees in a trade-deadline deal that sent All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman from New York to Chicago.

The left-handed flamethrower had come to New York as part of an offseason trade with Cincinnati. Once he’d arrived, Chapman was forced to sit out the first 30 games of the season for violating the league’s conduct policy after a reported domestic violence incident.

With the Yankees hovering around .500 and the Cubs making a playoff push, a deal was struck — and arguably the biggest prize of the trade was Torres, the baby-faced infielder making a name for himself down on the Chicago farm. Entering that year, ESPN had tabbed him the No. 4 prospect in baseball.

“I still value long term, but I still view every chance to win as sacred,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said the day of the trade. It paid off, with Chapman the pitcher of record in the Cubs’ Game 7, World Series-clinching win over the Indians.

MVP production

Two months after the Cubs won it all, Chapman headed back to the Bronx as a free agent.

The Cubs got their ring. But because of Chapman’s return, and because of the overall haul the Yankees received for trading him away, a case could be made — at least over the long term — that New York won the trade.

In addition to Torres, the Yankees received reliever Adam Warren and minor league outfielders Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford.

And not long after Torres joined the Yankees, he began to produce.

During the fall of 2016, still just 19, Torres hit a blistering .403 with four doubles, three home runs, 11 RBIs and 14 walks in 18 games with the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League. Those numbers earned him the fall league’s Joe Black MVP Award.

Torres was now considered by many to be the top prospect in the Yankees’ farm system. The clock was ticking for his MLB debut.

One slide puts everything on pause

Across 55 games last year for Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Torres put on a hitting clinic. During the week of May 14-19, in particular, Torres was in the kind of zone that turned heads across baseball.

He homered in four of the five games he played for Trenton that week. Three days later, he was suiting up for Scranton — one step from the big leagues — where he would reach safely in 21 of the 23 games with the RailRiders.

Then, on June 17, it all came to a screeching halt.

As Torres slid into home, trying to score in the first game of a road doubleheader against the Blue Jays-affiliated Buffalo Bisons, he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his left (non-throwing) elbow.

Four days later, he underwent Tommy John surgery. He was done for the season. The major leagues would have to wait.

Trending up: #GleyberGood

After Torres’ surgery, a hashtag he and a few Yankees die-hards had been using entered the fan base’s lexicon: #GleyberGood.

Torres used it in a tweet after the surgery to show he was in good spirits and looking forward to getting his rehab done in time for this year’s spring training.

He did make it to Tampa, but Torres’ second spring training as a Yankee didn’t go as smoothly as he would have wanted. After smacking Grapefruit League pitchers to the tune of a .448 average in 2017, Torres hit just .219 with 10 strikeouts in 13 games in Florida this year.

Instead of making the big league club, which had job openings at second and third base this spring, Torres began the season at Triple-A. Not long after he got there, though, his batting average — and everything else — started trending up.

Torres left the RailRiders on Saturday night sporting the highest batting average of his minor league career (.347). He also had 17 hits, three doubles, a triple, a homer and 11 RBIs in 14 games.

Because he was so #GleyberGood on the farm, the Yankees, in need of some offensive consistency at second base after shipping Starlin Castro to the Marlins in the Giancarlo Stanton deal over the winter, felt it was time to bring the player (and his hashtag) to the Bronx.

#GleyberGood had arrived in pinstripes.



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