While the Yankees were losing to the Royals in the Bronx Tuesday night, many fans were keeping one eye on a game being played 550 miles away in Columbus, Ohio.
That’s where 20-year-old super prospect Gleyber Torres went 1-for-3 with a walk in his Triple-A debut for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Torres, a shortstop by trade, played third base. The Yankees have been moving him around the infield, first at Double-A and now in his initial taste of the level closest to the majors.
With Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro both hitting better than .330 entering Tuesday night, the man who should be looking over his shoulder and /or feeling the hot breath of Torres on his neck is Chase Headley, who came into the game with five hits in his last 47 at-bats (or as Michael Kay called it on YES, “a little slump”).
That little slump, if it continues, could give the Yankees an opening to bring Torres to the majors sooner rather than later.
Torres was promoted because the Yankees’ business nowadays is pushing their exciting young players. And business is good.
“As I tell these young kids all the time,” manager Joe Girardi said, “I know sometimes it feels like you’re a long ways away, but things can happen really quickly in this game. Guys that went from A-ball in one year to the big leagues. It happens. And we’re paying attention.”
Remember when we all thought this was going to be a rebuilding season in the Bronx? Forget that. General manager Brian Cashman turned this franchise around in less than a year. The Mets’ rebuild took five years. If it doesn’t seem fair, that’s because it is not.
The Yankees were willing to push out Brian McCann last summer for Gary Sanchez. Cashman won’t hesitate to nudge aside Headley if Torres is ready to rock in the bigs, even though Headley has another year and $13 million left on the ill-conceived (we said so at the time) four-year, $52-million contract he signed before the 2015 season.
Headley went 1-for-4 with a double Tuesday night in the Yankees’ 6-2 loss. That won’t be enough to keep his job. The success of the youngsters, starting with Sanchez’s record-setting debut last summer, gives the Yankees momentum to keep the youth movement going. It’s been too successful and has brought buzz back to Yankee Stadium.
There’s Sanchez, who seems to be rounding into form since his return from a biceps injury. There’s Greg Bird, who started the season as the No. 3 hitter, looked awful, got injured and is finally on his way back.
There’s Tuesday night’s starter, rookie lefthander Jordan Montgomery, who had his best outing of the season, allowing one run in 6 2/3 innings, and deserved a better fate than the no-decision he got when Adam Warren allowed a go-ahead two-run homer to Jorge Bonifacio in the seventh.
There’s Luis Severino, who has the second-best ERA among Yankees starters and is just 23. There’s Chance Adams, a super stud pitcher at Triple-A who should be joining the rotation fairly soon. Adams has an 18-2 record in three levels over the last two seasons. That can’t just be Chance (sorry).
There’s Torres, who is rated as the second-best prospect in the game by Baseball America.
And of course there is Aaron Judge, who is such a force of nature that he has his own rooting section, The Judge’s Chambers, in rightfield. What a fun, terrific idea by the Yankees, who usually can be so stodgy.
Some cranks have suggested the Yankees are hyping Judge too soon. We disagree. It’s harmless whimsy and the Yankees, shockingly, aren’t even trying to make any extra money off the new section.
That may be the biggest shock of all, actually. It really is a new era in the Bronx.