Sunday, April 22, 2018

Yankees Promoting Gleyber Could Get Giancarlo Going

Gleyber Torres in spring training.

The Yankees made a long-awaited move official on Sunday morning, as they called up their top prospect, second baseman Gleyber Torres. from Scranton-Wilkes Barre.

The Yankees sent Tyler Wade down to get him everyday at-bats, as he was platooning at second base with Neil Walker, who also has split first base with Tyler Austin.

Neither Wade (.086 batting average, no home runs, 4 RBI) or Walker ( .183, 0 HR, 3 RBI) have been hitting, while Torres has torn up Scranton, hitting a very impressive .347 (17-49), with a .393 on-base percentage, a home run and 11 RBI, five walks and just 10 strikeouts in 14 games.

The Yankees were also impressed by the job that Torres did in spring training, praising his work ethic as he was working back from Tommy John surgery that ended his 2017 season prematurely.

If Torres did not suffer an elbow injury last June, he probably would have been called up in 2017, as he hit .287 with seven home runs and 34 RBI and had a superb .383 on-base percentage in 55 games at Double-A Trention and Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre.

One of the biggest beneficiaries could be Giancarlo Stanton, who has had a slow start as he gets adjusted to New York. The 2017 National League Most Valuable Player has a .195 average, with a .295 on-base percentage, four home runs and 12 RBI through Saturday's win over Toronto.

Torres will make this deep lineup even tougher for pitchers to deal with, and the attention he will draw initially, at least through the end of this homestand on Thursday, will take some of the glare off Stanton.

In addition to shoring up second base, that could have been a factor in starting the Gleyber Era, just as what also could be termed the Giancarlo Era is still in its opening credits.

When Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman decided to rebuild the farm system at the trade deadline, Torres was on his radar, and he acquired him from the Chicago Cubs for closer Aroldis Chapman.

This was a move that benefited both clubs at the time, as the Yankees got the building block they needed and the Cubs had World Series expectation and were concerned about depth in their bullpen.
Chapman played a big part in Chicago winning their first championship since 1908, and the Yankees brought him back that offseason when they signed him to a five-year deal.

The Cubs knew Torres was expendable because they had a very young, strong infield in place, led by 2015 Rookie of the Year and 2016 National League Most Valuable Player Kris Bryant at third base, Addison Russell at shortstop, Javier Baez at second, and Anthony Rizzo at first.

The Yankees not only wanted a top prospect for Chapman, but they knew that they needed a top infield prospect.

They had issues settling on a third baseman since Alex Rodriguez stopped playing the position in 2013. That was the last year before his suspension in 2014, and when he returned to the Yankees the following year, he was exclusively a designated hitter.

Over at second base, the Yankees had Starlin Castro, who was acquired from the Cubs the prior offseason, but they knew he was not a long-term solution there due to his inconsistent play on defense.

When Torres joined the Yankees organization, he instantly became one of their top five prospects, and is their number-one prospect today.
Torres joins a burgeoning core of young Yankees, which includes their number-four prospect, Miguel Andujar, who has done an amazing job at third base.

Right now, the Yankees will be sending out in their starting lineup a Fab Five of Baby Bombers, with last year's Rookie of the Year and certain MVP candidate this season Aaron Judge in right field, slugger Gary Sanchez at catcher, Tyler Austin at first base (and when healthy., another young star in Greg Bird), Andujar at third, and Torres at second. They also have solid young pitchers, in Jordan Montgomery, the lefty who could be moving up in the starting rotation, and Chad Green, who is rapidly becoming the second best option in their bullpen behind Chapman.

In the model of the Fab Five of Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, and Jorge Posada, all of these prospects aside from Torres were drafted by the Yankees.

The beauty of that core as laid out by Gene Michael in the early 1990s was that a team's strength comes up the middle of the field, as Posada was the catcher, Jeter at short, Bernie in center field, and then Pettitte in the rotation, and the greatest closer in Rivera at the back end of the bullpen.

The Yankees came within one win of the World Series last season with a lineup anchored by Judge, Sanchez, Bird, and shortstop Didi Gregorius, who is still young at 28 years old and in the middle of his prime.

Gleyber and Giancarlo could be the difference in making the Series this season.

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