Scouting the Prospects in the Aroldis Chapman Deal

I first laid eyes on Gleyber Torres in 2014 at the Rookie-level Arizona League. He was just about a year removed from signing a $1.7 million bonus the year before and, along with Eloy Jimenez, was that summer’s headliner in Mesa. Torres was polished for his age but he was slight of build and his tools were relatively muted compared to some of the other players from the 2013 J2 class. I put a 45 on him at the time, lacking confidence in his ability to find that happy medium where he could become physical enough to do some damage with the bat while also remaining at shortstop. Since then, things have gone about as well as anyone could have hoped. Torres’ body matured rapidly and he began to make more authoritative contact while retaining a contact-oriented approach and enough range to remain at shortstop. For now.

Torres has above-average bat speed and makes good use of his hips and lower half throughout his swing, allowing him to make hard ground-ball and line-drive contact to his pull side and back up the middle. He can also drive fly balls the other way, though doing so sucks some of the torque out of Torres’ swing and he doesn’t have the raw strength in his wrists and forearms to poke balls into the right-field bleachers regularly. He has solid feel for the barrel and, despite some effort, finds a way to make hard contact with pitches in various parts of the zone. He’s hitting .275/.359/.433 in High-A ball at age 19 (he turns 20 in December) and all signs here point to a future plus hit tool.

If he wanted to sell out for it, Torres could probably hit for above-average game power one day. He’s thickened up and become more explosive and powerful than I thought he’d be at this age and is already in possession of average raw power. If the body has more to give he could have 55 raw and, even without a change in his approach, some of the lofty fly balls Torres is currently hitting to right field might find there way into some of those easy-to-reach seats at Yankee Stadium.

Of course, if Torres does continue to thicken it probably means he’s no longer a shortstop. Some think he’s already teetering there. His arm is plus and the instincts and actions are fine, but Torres does not have an explosive first step and doesn’t get to quite as many balls as some scouts would like. If the body and range hold, he’ll be an average defender there. If he continues to grow, then I think third or second base are clearer defensive fits.

We’ve seen fringy shortstops make substantive defensive strides with major-league instruction. As prospects, Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, Aledmys Diaz, and Marcus Semien weren’t exactly drawing rave reviews for their respective defensive futures at short — and none of them has been so horrendous as to demand a move off of the position. So while I’m personally a bit of a snob when it comes to glovework at short, the grades below project Torres to remain at short. It makes sense to leave him there until he becomes bad enough to warrant moving or unless the Yankees have a better defensive option there once Torres is ready. Given Torres’ advanced nature, he could be in the Bronx by late 2018.

Tools: Present/Future
Hit: 40/60
Raw Power: 50/55
Game Power: 40/50
Run: 50/45
Field: 40/45
FV: 55

Other prospects involved in the trade…

Billy McKinney, OF

McKinney has always been a hit-before-power corner-outfield prospect and scouts have always hoped that his body would develop in a way that allowed power to come naturally and without any mechanical tinkering. McKinney certainly has gotten bigger but the power just isn’t in there. It’s a ground-ball bat path without much feel for lift and McKinney’s bat speed and twitch have gone backwards as he’s gotten bigger and dealt with some injuries. I acknowledge that this is an interesting buy-low opportunity for the Yankees who, according to A’s farm system conduit Kim Contreras, were high on McKinney pre-draft. He’s still just 21 and already at Double-A and his youth can be used to explain away this season’s hiccup, but even if McKinney reclaims the tools package that he once had, we’re just talking about a corner outfielder with 40 power again.

Tools: Present/Future
Hit: 40/50
Raw Power: 45/45
Game Power: 30/40
Run: 45/40
Field: 45/50
Arm: 40/40
FV: 40

Rashad Crawford, CF

Crawford is a low-level lottery ticket with some raw but explosive tools. He’s a plus runner who makes some incredible plays in center field, which is especially impressive considering he was an infielder in high school. He has good bat speed and big-time natural loft in his swing which allows him to golf out balls down and in here and there, but his overall feel for hitting is extremely raw. He’s 22 and, because of how unpolished his skillset is, it’s difficult to project Crawford as anything more than an org player.

Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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7 years ago

Sounds like the Yanks got their third baseman when chase headley’s contract is up!