CLEARWATER, Fla. — The hype machine that has been whirring around Gleyber Torres since he was 16 isn’t likely to stop anytime soon.
The 20-year-old shortstop, the crown jewel of the prospect haul brought in by the Yankees at last year’s trade deadline and ranked as the No. 5 prospect in the sport by Baseball America, roped two doubles in his first spring training start Saturday afternoon.
Torres, who went 2-for-2 in the 6-5 loss to the Phillies at Spectrum Field, even scored from second on a wild pitch.
“Instincts,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s a bright kid, knows how to play the game. You look at his at-bats: double down the rightfield line, double down the leftfield line. Played a very good shortstop. His IQ is really good.”
Though it was one spring training start and the two players have entirely different body types, Girardi nonetheless was asked if Torres reminds him of a young Derek Jeter.
“They’re probably different kind of players,” Girardi said after a sigh. “As far as being able to play in the moment, yes, but they’re different type of players.”
Of course, there have not been all that many moments of any kind for the 6-1, 175-pound Torres, who hasn’t played above high Class A ball. He ended last season with high Class A Tampa after the Yankees acquired him from the Cubs in the Aroldis Chapman deal and he’s slated to start this season with Double-A Trenton.
It is a sparse professional resume to this point, but it’s an impressive one. Torres has consistently wowed scouts since the Cubs signed him as a 16-year-old out of Venezuela for $1.7 million in July 2013.
One opposing team scout who saw Torres in the Midwestern League two years ago — when he played with Class A South Bend of the Midwestern League — used the word “mature,” a word that comes up frequently.
“I had zero approach at the plate when I was 18,” the scout said. “He had one then, has one now. He’s mature for his age.”
Another scout said Torres’ bat can at times overshadow his defense.
“He’s got a good professional clock,” the scout said. “He knows when he needs to throw it, how he needs to throw it over there. It’s pretty impressive for a young kid, especially at 20. I see it [the reason for the hype].”
Torres, who again had scouts, not to mention the Yankees, buzzing last November when he took home MVP honors in the Arizona Fall League, doesn’t appear to be getting caught up in the attention.
He often is seen in the clubhouse at Steinbrenner Field interacting with his teammates, particularly fellow prospects such as Miguel Andujar, Jorge Mateo and Tyler Wade. He often talks to reporters in English, though he used a translator while speaking to a larger group of reporters Saturday.
After last season, the Yankees told him he would be getting an invite to spring training, and he prepared accordingly.
“I set my mind for it and worked really hard so I wouldn’t feel out of place and I would feel comfortable,” Torres said. “You want to keep working hard, that’s the key. I’m very proud to have this opportunity to be here with these guys.”
He is aware of the headlines he’s created and will continue to create.
“A lot of stuff has been said about me, and it’s nice to hear good things about me,” Torres said. “But you have to stay humble and keep working hard . . . The best thing that I can accomplish this spring training, my first [big-league] spring training, is experience. And being able to mature and learn from [veteran] teammates I have. This is a unique opportunity.”