Tracking Gleyber Torres’ Rapid Progression
By Adam Shemesh
A little over three years ago, Gleyber Torres was a 17-year old kid living in Venezuela. Now, he’s one of the top prospects in the big leagues.
In 2013, Gleyber’s professional career started when the Cubs signed him out of the International free agent pool. For the subsequent three years, Torres moved from instructional league to rookie ball with Chicago. He was ranked as a consensus top 40 prospect heading into 2016.
In July of 2016, Torres was traded to the Yankees as the main piece in the Aroldis Chapman swap that sent the flame throwing lefty closer to Chicago. For the Cubs, this was an easy decision to make, as their farm system has been notoriously full of great minor league talent for years now.
For the Yankees, the trade for Torres represented a seismic shift in philosophy. Always viewed as the team to go for it no matter what, the mighty Yankees finally succumbed to a harsh reality, agreeing to sell off the present in exchange for the future. Having a great minor league talent to look forward to was warmly welcomed by most educated Yankee fans.
Torres was sent to play for the Tampa Yankees, the Bombers’ Single-A affiliate. Over 31 games, he garnered 31 hits, and showed impressive plate discipline 16 walks to 23 strikeouts. But, Torres’ prospect status exploded when the middle infield prospect appeared in the Arizona Fall League.
Coming into the Fall League, most Yankee eyes were on rehabbing first baseman Greg Bird and 2015 first round pick James Kaprielian. Torres forced his way into the spotlight by winning the AFL League MVP award.
Torres, just 19 years old, became the youngest MVP of the Arizona Fall League, which is a hotbed for top prospects. In 18 games, he posting an eye-popping .403 average, easily the best in the league, which featured names like consensus #1 overall prospect Yoan Moncada. Torres also carried over his impressive plate approach, walking 14 times en route to an unheard of .513 on base percentage. All the meanwhile, scouts were lauding his impressive glove work at shortstop. (The Bombers already have a great one in Didi Gregorius, and they’re trying to push Torres to play more second base.)
That performance really put Torres on the map. He was ranked as the best prospect in the Yankees’ deep farm system by Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and MLB.com. This after he was ranked between 35th and 40th on those respective sites at this time last year. MLB.com gave Torres his highest ranking, at #3 overall. The last position player to crack #3 overall on their list was Kris Bryant, in 2014. Does that mean Torres will be as good as Bryant?
Probably not, but he’s certainly enjoying some good company.