In the wake of Didi Gregorius‘ shoulder injury, the New York Yankees may need a fill-in at short. Top prospect Gleyber Torres is not the answer.
After tearing the cover off the ball in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, New York Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius returned to Tampa a little earlier than expected after a hematoma of the subscapularis muscle in his throwing shoulder was discovered.
There is no timetable on Didi’s return yet, but he had a preliminary MRI yesterday, with more tests coming on Tuesday. Manager Joe Girardi is encouraged by the strength that is in the shoulder right now, but it appears as though he’s still going to miss some time.
“It’s obviously not what you want to hear, but hopefully it’s something short,” Girardi said. “But again, we have not seen him. The evaluation from the doctor was his strength was really good. But we’ve got to see him.”
With that, it’s no surprise that many fans have turned their focus to New York’s top prospect Gleyber Torres as a potential replacement if Gregorius’ return is far down the road.
In 18 games this spring, the 20-year-old owns a ridiculous slash line of .464/.484/.964 and in ironic fashion, he went 1-for-1 with a RBI double in the game after news broke of Didi’s injury. It’s almost too perfect of a story and brings us back to how a Yankees’ legend jump-started his career.
Back in 1996, Derek Jeter, the then-sixth best prospect in baseball, got his chance when starting shortstop Tony Fernandez went down with a knee injury during spring training. You all know what happened next. While Torres himself has compared himself to the captain, you shouldn’t expect a sequel to the “Uprising of Derek Jeter” movie for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, as promising as this kid has been, he turned 20 just four months ago and has yet to take a pitch in Double-A Trenton. Torres has played 132 games at High-A between the Chicago Cubs and Yankees organization then became the youngest MVP in the history of the Arizona Fall League, but having a kid who you’re so high on jump over Double-A and Triple-A will do nothing but damage the prospect’s development as a ballplayer — despite how hot his play has been through 28 Grapefruit League at-bats.
Jeter at least played in 166 minor league career games in Triple-A Columbus before taking over as the starting shortstop. Yes, even the franchise’s leader in hits needed a chance to develop.
Then, you have to consider that Torres isn’t even on the Yankees’ 40-man roster. Making room won’t necessarily be an issue for general manager Brian Cashman, but that ultimately means that it becomes a 39-man roster. Think about it.
If the Yankee brass devotes a roster spot to Gleyber Torres, that’ll end up eliminating the ability to call up a player that can help the team now rather than Torres’ major league ETA of 2018. 40-man flexibility, especially with a team that contains a questionable rotation and shaky middle relief, is essential.
This is not to say that Torres making his major league debut in 2017 is far-fetched.
If he proceeds to perform like a major leaguer trapped in a minor leaguer’s body, seeing him in New York could happen if Gregorius comes back fatigued and isn’t the same or if Chase Headley is struggling or traded at some point.
Starlin Castro has the athletic ability to play third so there are tons of opportunity for Gleyber Torres if he tears up Double-A and Triple-A. But, given his celestial performance this spring, prospect standing and ceiling, a call-up now simply hurts him and the Yankees in the grand scheme of things.
The young Torres plays the game the way a veteran would, but struggles at the major league level to kick off his career (followed by would be a quick demotion) would do nothing except tarnish his confidence — one of the many unique tools that have caught my eye early on.
With a history of mismanaging prospects, bringing their top prospect into the Bronx spotlight before he’s ready will just add to that trend.