The New York Yankees have a plethora of young talent throughout the organization, but Estevan Florial is something special.
Two Nor’easters in a week aside, what a beautiful time of the year we’ve reached. Temperatures are rising, the sun is staying out longer, and New York Yankees prospects are giving fans reason to get excited about the present and future of the organization.
Right out of the gate, Florial projects to fill the only outfield spot that won’t be locked up by the time he’s ready to make the jump to the big leagues, center field. Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge will have the corner outfield positions locked up for years to come, likely to be followed with Clint Frazier down the line when Stanton starts spending more time at DH.
As much as it pains fans to think, Brett Gardner’s career with the Yankees is nearing its conclusion. Aaron Hicks will be a free agent soon and may look for work somewhere with more job security than the Yankees can offer with the level of young talent they have in the outfield. So from a logistical standpoint, Florial could slot right into the open outfield spot in between Judge and Stanton/Frazier.
From a tools standpoint, Florial might as well have been made in a baseball laboratory. At 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, he has the size to be a productive and durable outfielder. His blinding speed has been on full display this spring, evidenced he went from first-to-third on a wild pitch and then scored on another wild pitch. That is a completely manufactured run created solely by Florial’s feet.
That athleticism contributes strongly to his defense as well. He has the speed to create a defensive range that could make almost any fly ball to center field a guaranteed out. That’s extremely important in Yankee Stadium where left-center field is seemingly endless. It’s almost scary to think how much further that range can extend as he learns to read balls faster and get better jumps on the ball.
Just as exciting as the speed and defense is Florial’s raw ability at the plate. He generates an incredible amount of power with his legs, which allows him to bring his hands right to the ball. In only three minor league seasons, Florial has slashed his way to a .281 batting average and a .818 OPS. Those are extremely promising numbers for someone who is still putting that part of his game together. He has shown an excellent approach at the plate this spring and will, without a doubt, be able to put his natural swinging ability and growing understanding of putting together quality at-bats together as he shoots through the farm system. It also doesn’t hurt that, as a lefty, he’ll be able to take advantage of the short porch in right field.
While all of his abilities on the field should be enough to have Yankees fans anxiously awaiting his arrival, Florial’s most exciting trait is his personality. He has complete faith in the organization’s decisions on his minor league progression.
“I’m not going to say one of two years, that decision I’ll leave to the GM,” Florial told NorthJersey.com’s Pete Caldera when asked about his ETA in the majors. For a prospect as highly-praised as Florial, his decision to trust Brian Cashman and his development process speak volumes about his maturity level at such a young age.
According to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com, he has also taken every possible opportunity to learn from those around him. His desire to improve by learning from others, regardless of whether they are big leaguers or minor-league teammates, clearly demonstrates his motivation, his love for the game, and a completely non-existent ego.
While all of these things can be found in any scouting report, what truly moves the needle for most Yankee fans is that Cashman seems to be all in on Florial. According to Pete Caldera, while Cashman has fielded a lot of calls from opposing GMs kicking the tires on a potential Florial trade, he has stood fast in saying that he has no intention of trading the center fielder of the future.
If there’s anything that Yankee fans have learned during Cashman’s time as GM, the last few years in particular, it’s that if Cashman wants a player, that player is more than likely a special talent. If you don’t believe that, just look up who Cashman traded to acquire Didi Gregorius.
As prospects go, Florial is the complete package. He hits well, plays good defense, and has the kind of speed that can make or break a ball game. When he reaches the majors, he’s a potential .300 hitter who can swipe 30-plus bags and smack 20-plus home runs.
In my opinion, fans should get ready for a meteoric rise by a true five-tool player with the level of determination and class that goes hand-in-hand with being a New York Yankee.