ARLINGTON, Texas — When Gleyber Torres was called up April 22, Aaron Boone made a statement he’s had to walk back a bit, even though the comment was far from negative.
“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 raw power, speed, or anything like that,” Boone said that morning. “This is just a really complete ballplayer.”
Boone, when the “wow” quote is repeated to him, just smiles.
Yes, he’s said several times, he’s been “wowed” the past month by just about everything Torres has done, but mostly by the power he has displayed. The 21-year-old second baseman homered twice off Bartolo Colon in Monday night’s 10-5 victory over the Rangers. Then he homered off Cole Hamels his first time up Tuesday night, giving him seven in 85 at-bats. Entering the game, Torres was hitting .321 with a .960 OPS in 25 games.
“I think it’s surprising me that it’s coming to this level so quickly,” Boone said before referencing Monday’s two long homers, estimated at 418 feet to left-center and 425 feet to center. “Two you just knew off the bat. And the balls he’s hit with so much authority all over the ballpark. Yeah, he’s showing me more power than I anticipated.”
Torres showed decent power potential in the minor leagues — his season high was 11 in Class A in 2016 — but nothing suggesting what he’s done so far.
Torres did not offer much in the way of explanation. “I just try to look for my pitch,” he said. “I just try to put the ball in play and make good contact. Just like that.”
The consistency with which Torres has done it has impressed teammates.
“Seems like he puts the barrel on the ball every time,” said Aaron Hicks, who hit one of the Yankees’ five blasts Monday. “He’s able to hit all pitches in all different locations. That’s not something you see every day.”
Torres has demonstrated power and the ability to get on base, attributes more befitting a middle-of-the-order hitter than one who’s been batting ninth. Boone said he likes Torres’ production from that spot, but that doesn’t mean it’s permanent, either.
“I feel like on our team, it’s a more valuable slot in the order than ‘Oh, he’s hitting ninth,’ ” Boone said. “I feel like with our guys at the top, I just feel like it’s an important slot in the order. That said, I’m always considering a time when to move him up. But I just think he’s been so dynamic down there, it just seems like such an important part of the order that I really like him down there for now.”
Although shortstop was Torres’ natural position coming up through the minors, the transition to second has been relatively smooth. There were two misplayed balls Friday in Kansas City that cost CC Sabathia two runs, but those hiccups have been few.
“Oh, he belongs,” Boone said. “When I pencil him in every day, I feel like I’m penciling in a really good player that really knows how to play the game as well. He plays beyond his years, from the intangible things he brings and just doing so many things well on both sides of the ball.”