Luis Torrens opened a lot of eyes in his 2014 breakout season for the New York Yankees farm system. The young catcher showed the offense that the Yankees knew could match the sound defense he already had behind the plate. Hopes were high for Torrens to take it to the next level.
And as so often happens with young prospects, those hopes were derailed when Torrens missed the entire 2015 with a torn labrum.
Fully recovered, Torrens is looking stronger than ever in Charleston.
Torrens was signed out of Venezuela at the age of 16 back in 2012. He came to the Yankees as a shortstop, but they saw that his strong defense and 6-foot, 175 pound build could play well behind the plate. Thus far, they have been correct.
The now 20-year old has had some receiving flaws in his transition, but his overall play has not shown any overwhelming signs for concern just yet. His biggest problem has simply been keeping the ball in front of him, posting 13, 14 and 18 passed balls in his first three seasons, but behind a combination of youth and position change, this was to be expected.
Torrens used his quick feet, soft hands and cannon of an arm to make the transition to catcher rather successfully. He doesn’t make errors, as evidenced by his .995 career fielding percentage and he also doesn’t allow many prospective base thieves much success. He has thrown out 42-percent of attempted base runners on his young career, and that is remarkable.
The big questions surrounded his bat. He had a nice 2013 debut season in the Gulf Coast League, showing an advanced feel for hitting at the age of 17, but lacked any semblance of power. He slashed .241/.348/.299 with just eight extra base hits in 174 at bats.
2014 would see a big improvement. The Yankees skipped him over Short Season right to Charleston where he showed he wasn’t quite ready for the advanced pitching of full season ball, but he shined when he came back to the New York-Penn League. Still one of the youngest players in the league at 18, he hit .270 and showed that he may in fact develop some power as he hit well to all fields registering 14 doubles and three home runs. The season was highlighted by a 21-game hitting streak. He had 10 multi-hit games and batted .400 (34-for-85) between June 28 to July 26.
And then injury struck. But what the Yankees brass has to like about Torrens 2015 was how relentlessly he worked to get back. He rehabbed as hard as one could, and even began to study English in order to better understand his pitching staff. There is very rarely a day you don’t see Torrens in the bullpen working with his pitchers or coaches, trying to hone his skills and familiarize himself with his battery mates.
Now, Torrens is back and early indications seem to show that Torrens bat is finally catching up to his defense. He hit .311 and got on base at a .360 lick in Staten Island before getting promoted to Charleston. While he has only been in Charleston for five games, he has collected at least one hit in four of those games, rolling into Sunday’s action behind consecutive multi-hit nights and a .429 batting average.
The Yankees love Torrens ability to use all fields, as shown in the video from MiLB.com of his tie-breaking double (albeit aided by some subpar defense).
When you look at the Yankees organization and see someone like Gary Sanchez struggling to find his way to the Bronx, you have to wonder what value someone like Torrens holds. Will he one day be the Austin Romine to Sanchez’s Brian McCann, or will the Yankees see him as their future, making Sanchez expendable at the deadline?
Torrens should leave all of that speculation to the pundits. Should he keep improving yearly as he has throughout his career, that question will answer itself.