HOUSTON — Add another item to the manual regarding judging players in spring training: The Gleyber Torres rule.
Provided with a chance to win the Yankees’ starting second-base job in spring training, Torres didn’t impress and was sent to the minors before the final cuts were made. It was clear the 21-year-old infielder was trying to shake off the rust of not having played beyond last June 17 and coming back from Tommy John surgery on his left (non-throwing elbow).
Now, run the tape ahead, and after nine big-league games a scout who saw Torres in spring training doesn’t recognize him.
“Spring training is what it is. It’s a waste of time is what it is,’’ the scout said of evaluating players in a situation where wins and losses don’t matter.
Torres, the biggest piece of the Aroldis Chapman trade to the Cubs in July 2016, took a .323 (10-for-31) average into Tuesday night’s game against Astros ace Justin Verlander at Minute Maid Park.
The math isn’t the only thing that has changed.
“He is an All-Star, somebody who is going to hit .300 with 25 homers someday,’’ said the scout who, like others, wasn’t impressed with Torres under Florida’s palm trees. “His reactions, he has an above-average arm and gets the barrel on the ball.’’
In fact the Yankees dropped $4 million on the switch-hitting Neil Walker during spring training to help fill the void created when Starlin Castro was dealt to the Marlins in the package that brought Giancarlo Stanton to The Bronx.
Now, with Torres hitting and making sensational plays as well as the routine ones in the field, Walker likely will have to share time at first base with Tyler Austin, who returned from a four-game suspension Tuesday night. And if Greg Bird surfaces this month, Walker’s playing time could vanish completely.
“I can’t say I play like an All-Star. I feel comfortable and keep preparing the way I did before,’’ Torres said before facing Verlander.
“I think he has played really well,” manager Aaron Boone said. “I think he has been outstanding. I knew he was a good defender and he has been great out there. There is a confidence, there is a heartbeat and a clock that he plays with out there that is really impressive, more so than I even thought. Watching with my eyes, the way he goes after the ball. He almost reminds me of Javy Baez a little bit the way he plays out there. There is a real comfort. He has really good hands playing second and a shortstop’s arm so that is a bonus. Overall, I think his at-bats have been pretty strong. I am really pleased with how he has played and how he has settled in.’’
On the day Torres was elevated to the big leagues Boone described him this way:
“He’s a really complete player. I think the one thing about Gleyber, obviously he’s one of the top prospects in the sport, [but] I don’t necessarily think there’s anything that’s ‘wow.’ He’s not going to go out in BP and hit the ball like some of our guys, a mile. He’s not going to wow you with his speed,” the manager said. “But he does everything really well on a baseball field. He can hit, he uses the entire field, his strike-zone recognition — I think he’s going to be a guy that walks over time. He’s a really good defender at all three spots, and can legitimately play short. That’s the kind of defender he is. Kind of that baseball IQ, baseball clock. He just seems to have all those things.
“Look, we think he has a chance to be a special player and one that’s a very complete player, but I don’t think one that’s going to wow people necessarily with his skill set from a raw power, speed, or anything like that. This is just a really complete ballplayer.’’
One a scout believes will develop into an All-Star and send a reminder to everybody that spring training doesn’t count.
Source: Read Full Article