ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Gleyber Torres is one step away.
The Yankees promoted Torres, their top prospect and one of the top prospects in the sport, from Double-A Trenton to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday. The 20-year-old had a .273/.367/.496 slash line, five homers and 18 RBIs with the Thunder.
“More than ready,” said one opposing team talent evaluator who covers the Yankees’ system and has watched Trenton. “There was nothing left for him to do there [in Double-A].”
Torres, acquired from the Cubs in the Aroldis Chapman trade last summer, came up as a shortstop, but the Yankees wanted to get him work at second and third as well. Torres played 19 games at shortstop, six at third base and five at second for Trenton. It is expected that he’ll play mostly shortstop but will see time at the other two positions for Scranton.
His promotion is evidence that the Yankees didn’t see his benching for a perceived lack of hustle last week as anything serious. Trenton manager Bobby Mitchell benched Torres on Wednesday night for not hustling out of the batter’s box on a ball he lost off the bat and thought was foul.
“If you watch the video, it’s easy to be convinced he had no idea where the ball was off the bat,” general manager Brian Cashman said Thursday. “What Bobby did was appropriate, but Gleyber’s reaction made sense when you look at it. It’s really not a big deal.”
Torres started the season slowly with Trenton, then landed on the disabled list for a short time with mild rotator cuff tendinitis.
Before going 0-for-2 with two walks on Sunday, Torres had a .296/.374/.580 slash line in 21 games after returning from the injury, hitting all five of his home runs and driving in 16 runs. Four of the homers, including a grand slam, and nine of the RBIs came in the six-game span that preceded Sunday’s game.
“Just a complete all-around hitter,” another opposing team scout who covers Trenton said. “Instincts far ahead of his years. There’s nothing he can’t do.”
Torres joins a Triple-A team already stocked with top organizational prospects such as outfielders Dustin Fowler and Clint Frazier and utilityman Tyler Wade.
Though it’s far too soon to say anyone on the big-league roster should take Torres’ promotion as a shot across the bow, slumping third baseman Chase Headley would be the closest. Headley, who has one year left on a four-year, $52-million deal, has struggled defensively and, after a strong April, has been in a skid at the plate. Headley went 0-for-4 Sunday, extending his slide to 5-for-48 and leaving him with a .241/.317/.386 slash line in 39 games.
Still, fans’ shouting to the contrary, it’s not as if the Yankees are aiming to quickly insert Torres, who has all of six minor-league games at third base under his belt, in Headley’s spot. But his promotion to one level away from the big leagues will put him in a lot of conversations.
A third opposing team talent evaluator repeated something he said during spring training, when Torres produced a .448/.469/.931 slash line in 19 games before being sent to minor-league camp.
“I think I said it in March,” the scout said. “If the Yankees turn out to be wrong on him, then everyone was wrong on him. Still looks like everyone was right.”