New York Yankees’ top prospect, shortstop Gleyber Torres, has won the Arizona Fall League MVP award. Torres, who was the headliner in the package from the Cubs that sent Aroldis Chapman to Chicago, is just 19-years-old. He is the youngest player to win the Joe Black MVP Award, in fact, no one under the age of 21 has ever put together a better season in the 32 game league.
The Arizona Fall League is an off-season, 32 game league that plays from mid-October to mid-November. It was founded in 1992 and has attracted many of the top prospects in minor league systems all around the league. Torres, along with fellow Yankee prospects Greg Bird, Miguel Andujar, Dillon Tate, J.P. Feyereisen, Tyler Wade, Brody Koerner and James Kaprielian, played for the Scottsdale Scorpions.
Torres led the AFL in average at .403, OBP at .513, and OPS at 1.158. He also earned the batting title, by an astounding 50 points over the next closest player. He added 25 hits, three homers, four doubles, 14 walks, and four stolen bases in 18 games, putting all of his tools on display. His performance earned him two AFL Player of the Week awards en route to being named MVP. He wasn’t only the league’s best hitter, but he also provided a flair for the dramatic.
On October 15th he delivered a walk-off hit with the bases loaded for the Scorpions, joining teammate Tim Tebow with the only walk-off hits of the year. He also appeared in the third annual Fall Stars Game. What’s even more impressive is he did this all while learning a new position, second base.
Yankee prospects have had huge success in the Arizona Fall League in recent years. In 2014, first baseman Greg Bird won the MVP award after an impressive short season with the Scorpions. He went on to play a big role for the Yankees in 2015 and was expected to be the Opening Day starting first baseman in 2016 before shoulder surgery caused him to miss the entire season. Bird’s shoulder has healed, and with Mark Teixeira gone, the Bird Man is set to start the season at first come Opening Day 2017.
Last October, Gary Sanchez made a very strong case for the Joe Black MVP award but fell just short. Sanchez made his historic debut for the Yankees in August and went on to hit 20 homers in just 53 games. He finished second in Rookie of the Year voting, and after the recent trade of Brian McCann, The Kraken will play the bulk of the games behind the plate next season. Torres is the third Yankee prospect to win the award, joining Bird and Eric Duncan in 2005.
Ranked the number six shortstop prospect in all of baseball, Torres played seven games at second base. “I felt good, I felt comfortable,” said Torres. Scouts have described him with average range, but the instincts and a strong arm to succeed at either second or third as well. Gleyber’s versatility gives the Yankees some wiggle room, who are crowded at the middle infield positions. Spots currently held by Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro, they also have number three prospect Jorge Mateo and number 15 prospect Tyler Wade waiting for their shot. Torres, who’s bat continues to get better and better, will have an advantage if he can continue to succeed at multiple infield spots.
The Yankees acquired Torres from the Cubs at the deadline in a package that brought them Adam Warren, Billy McKinney, and Rashad Crawford in exchange for Aroldis Chapman. Torres originally signed with the Cubs for $1.7 million out of Venezuela in 2013. He had been the number one prospect in the Cubs organization, but the deal is looking like a classic win-win. Chapman helped the Cubs win their first World Series title in 108 years, while Torres is emerging as a future star for the Yankees.
He was considered the best overall prospect in the AFL according to some scouts, and his performance these past two months were just a taste of what the 19-year-old is capable of. He put together an impressive 2016 campaign at high Class-A, slashing .270/.354/.421 with 29 doubles, 11 homers, and 21 stolen bases in 125 games. “Before I came here, I prepared myself very well. I always prepare,” said Torres. His performance was even more impressive seeing as he was nearly four years younger than every other player in the Florida State League. Torres isn’t expected to make his debut until 2018 at the earliest, but he could be a huge part of Yankees teams for years to come. Look for Gleyber Torres in 2017, as he is expected to start the season in Double-A Trenton, according to Brian Cashman.