Anthony McCarron, SNY.tv | Twitter |
It's easy to get scouts and executives gushing when you bring up Gleyber Torres and his prospects for the 2020 season:
"He's a young star and the Yankees have every reason to be thrilled about him," says one competing club official.
Adds a big-league scout who has evaluated Torres in both the minors and majors: "He's always going to hit."
But as Torres goes through spring camp before his third big-league season, there are questions to ponder, too. Now that shortstop is all his, how will he fare defensively? After he showed big power by leading the mighty Yankees with 38 homers last year, can he bash that many again?
And can he continue to adjust to different strategies on how he'll be pitched?
It all adds up to what should be a fascinating season for the wunderkind, who already has two All-Star selections on his resume at only 23 years old.
When the Yanks let Didi Gregorius depart as a free agent, it meant that Torres would be the man who replaced the man who replaced Derek Jeter at short. Torres filled the role in 2019 while Gregorius was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, playing 77 games there.
Torres had one Defensive Run Saved last year at short, according to FanGraphs. He's played more games at second base than any position since debuting in the majors in 2018.
The club is confident he'll be fine at short, the spot Torres himself calls his natural position. So is our scout.
"He is going to make all the routine plays there," the scout says. "The analytical people used to complain about Jeter and I used to say, 'I'd rather have him than somebody else.' As long as you make most of the plays out there, how much are you really losing at short because his range might not be as good as (Francisco) Lindor or someone like that? How many Lindors are there?
"But how many Gleybers are there? His offense is well worth it."
If Torres encounters some blips at short, he won't let that engulf him, the executive says. Even at a young age, Torres has proven he can handle the New York spotlight. He's performed during baseball's hottest month, glare-wise, too, recording a .928 OPS in 14 career Postseason games.
"He has displayed that he's built for New York since he got there," the executive adds. "I really value that -- these are unique players who can do that. He's had the big expectations on him and he's performed."
His power numbers likely will add to this year's expectations. He homered every 14.4 at-bats in 2019, down from once every 18 at-bats as a rookie.
Can he hit 38 homers again? The executive says yes, but perhaps not this season when pitchers are bound to attack him differently after a winter of studying video and tendencies.
"It's similar to what Pete Alonso will go through this year with the Mets," the executive says. "Both he and Gleyber will have to adjust. Will they take a walk? They're going to have to prove to pitchers that if the pitchers won't pitch to them, they'll walk and force them to throw strikes. They have to prove they won't chase.
"Yeah, I think Gleyber will hit 38 again. I think he'll hit 40. Maybe it won't be this year, but in the future, he will."
The scout isn't so sure, though he's not knocking Torres' offensive skills.
"If they go back to making the balls the way they used to, he won't," the scout says. "He'd have to do it for a couple of years for me to say that's him. That's a lot of home runs.
"But he'll be making contact. If he hits 25, would you take it from the shortstop position? Absolutely. If he hits .275, too? That's a great year for a shortstop and we're just saying he's coming back down to earth. If Amed Rosario did it, the Mets would jump for joy."