Gleyber Torres already turning into a full-on star
The two-time All-Star has been a constant in the Yankees' lineup at age 22
For every fanbase, there's a prospect to dream on waiting in the Minor Leagues. That one guy that all the hopes for the future rest upon, the player who's going to either turn the franchise around or sustain it for the future.
So often, that player doesn't quite live up to expectations. Maybe they turn into a fine regular but not a full-fledged star.
At just 22, Gleyber Torres is already meeting those lofty expectations, and looks like a budding superstar in the Bronx. Torres has received hype for his 13-homer season against the Orioles -- certainly remarkable -- but he's more than just a villain in Baltimore.
He's turned into one of the Yankees' most reliable contributors in a season of injury-fueled chaos.
Torres is just two seasons removed from his status as one of baseball's top prospects. Acquired at 19, Yankees fans doted over him for nearly two years before he reached the Majors. He had to overcome Tommy John surgery and a crowded infield simply to get playing time.
Now, Torres is tied for the team lead with 27 home runs, already exceeding his output from 2018 in 12 fewer games. He's bested himself in just about every category after earning an All-Star appearance and third-place finish in Rookie of the Year balloting in 2018.
In his first month in the Majors last year, Torres showed his precocious bat. He adjusted to tough offspeed pitches in the middle of at-bats and hit for more power than most players in his position at their peak. There was little doubt Torres was special.
However, now he's taken his game to another level. He's cut his strikeout rate down from 25.2 to 20.5 percent while increasing his walks. (He's exceeded his walk total from last season while striking out 27 fewer times.) He's hitting the ball harder on average. Watching him at the plate, you get the feeling that he could thrive in any era, showing off power in the launch-angle age or adjusting to spray the ball when asked.
Though Ronald Acuna and Juan Soto might get more coverage, Torres has staked his name as one of the best young players in the game. Some youngsters would need more time to develop or could find themselves overwhelmed by the pressures of New York. Torres, meanwhile, hasn't fallen victim to any sophomore slump and has embraced the Bronx.
Furthermore, he's simply been more durable after missing a chunk of last season to a hip strain. This season, with the Yankees desperate for healthy players, Torres has stepped up. He filled in for Didi Gregorius at shortstop while he was recovering from his own Tommy John surgery and has been an everyday presence in the injury-beset lineup.
Whether at short or the keystone, Torres has been a more consistent fielder this season as well. He's still accumulated errors, yet he's cut down on misplays by eliminating simple mistakes. He's even added some highlight plays and looked more comfortable turning double plays, showing a penchant for the barehanded spectacular.
In July, the middle infielder became just the third player in Yankees history to make two All-Star teams before age 23, joining Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio. Not to put even higher expectations on Torres' talent, but he's routinely reaching territory in franchise history covered only by legends such as that duo.
He's already displayed an elite bat and an ability to get better in a short period, all while playing premium, up-the-middle positions. The sky truly appears to be the limit for the Venezuelan native.
Even while sharing a lineup with Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez, Torres has the potential to be the best Yankee of all in the current core. It should scare all American League teams -- not just the Orioles -- that he's only getting started.