Like the New York Yankees’ great Yogi Berra once said, “it’s like deja vu all over again.” For the second-straight year, the Yankees lose their top prospect for the bulk of the season with Estevan Florial heading for surgery.
Yankees stud prospect Estevan Florial will be out until August due to hamate surgery.— George A. King III (@GeorgeAKingIII) May 18, 2018
Last season, of course, saw the Yankees lose Gleyber Torres right around the same time there were whispers that he was MLB-bound. Torres was red-hot, amid a five-game hitting streak that saw two three-hit games, when he slid headfirst into home plate and saw his season end at the hands of the infamous Tommy John (surgery of course).
Now, Florial was a long way from his imminent debut, but it certainly is a big blow. While it appears that he should be able o return in August, there will be some rust to shake off. Atlanta Braves outfield prospect Dustin Peterson suffered the same injury and surgery, and saw his power diminish for the entirety of the next season until he finally looked healthy again this year. The Yankees hope Florial, whose power is just part of his complete weaponry, doesn’t suffer the same fate.
For those not in the know, Florial was more known as a speedy outfielder before coming into his own in Charleston in 2017. That’s where I saw him a couple of times and the speed was for real. The left-handed hitter (but right-handed thrower) was seemingly three-quarters down the first base line as soon as he made contact.
But the power and hit-tool also developed in Charleston. Just 19 at the time, Florial took a big step forward, slashing .297/.373/.483 with 21 doubles and 11 home runs while swiping 17-of-24 stolen base attempts. He had some swing-and-miss, largely do to a big swing and struggles with recognition of breaking pitches. That seemed to be a large part of his struggles in the more advanced, pitcher-friendly Florida State League this season. Florial was striking out 30.1 percent of the time when he got injured. In his defense, he can take a walk, having been over 10 percent of the time at his last three stops.
Florial will also be a loss in the outfield, where not only does his speed play, but so does his rifle of an arm. The complete package, our John Sickels had Florial ranked No. 2 to start the season. With the graduation of Gleyber Torres, that left Florial the reigning No. 1 prospect. Here’s why:
Age 20, signed out of Haiti in 2015; was a raw athlete a year ago but made excellent progress with his baseball skills in ’17, hitting combined .298/.372/.479 with 13 homers, 23 steals, 50 walks, 148 strikeouts in 420 at-bats in Low-A and High-A; reputation grew as the summer progressed and this is not a product of Yankee media hype, he’s legit; has the tools to match the numbers with 60 power, 60 speed, 60 arm; swing might need some polish at higher levels to improve contact but he made a lot of progress very quickly, having hit just .225 in rookie ball in ’16; I may ultimately rank him ahead of Adams; ETA 2020 (UPDATED 3/13/18, moving him from number three to number two to match Top 175 prospects list)
The loss of Florial is a big blow to the Yankees in his development, but does not effect their immediate future. Now all eyes will be on August, and if the Yankees bring him back for a few at bats, or simply shut him down until Fall ball. Gleyber Torres made a speedier comeback than expected and is showing little ill-effects. The Yankees truly hope in that aspect, it is like deja vu all over again.