by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Everyone loves Gleyber Torres and there’s little question that he’s among the premier prospects in the game. However no one should be assuming that he’s a lock to hit the ground running and emerge as a can’t miss option upon his arrival. Why, you ask? Let’s look no further than Addison Russell as a potential cautionary tale…
Remember Russell was long considered among the elite prospects in the game, but having spent time in the Majors over the past three seasons he’s generally underwhelmed (.240 with 46 HR over 1,506 PA). Will Torres be better than Russell? Is there a reason we are drawing this comparison? Let’s take a look:
What has been the biggest issue for Russell since arriving in the Majors? A 13.2% SwStr%, which has led to a 24.9% strikeout rate over his career. Obviously both levels Torres played at in ’17 were short sample sizes and he played the season as a 20-year old, but we can’t overlook the numbers:
- Double-A (139 PA) – 15.1% strikeout rate, 9.5% SwStr%
- Triple-A (96 PA) – 27.1% strikeout rate, 16.0% SwStr%
The jump was notable and maybe it was his age and the need for time to adjust to the level. It’s interesting, because at Double-A back in 2014, also playing as a 20-year old, Russell turned an 8.6% SwStr% into a 16.4% strikeout rate over 262 PA. The numbers then jumped up as he moved forward from there, reaching the levels we’ve seen over the past few years.
It’s not a perfect comparison, as Torres has shown a better approach at the plate overall. Despite the jump in strikeouts he’s continued to show an ability to draw a walk (13.5% at Triple-A) and hit the ball hard (22.9% line drive rate at Double-A, 32.7% at Triple-A). Those are two things Russell always struggled with (6.5% walk rate, 15.8% line drive rate at Double-A in ’14) and does give more hope that Torres can continue to produce.
Given his age and the jump in strikeouts you don’t want the Yankees to give in to the pressure of rushing him to the Majors. It’s easy to argue that it is what happened to Russell, and it ultimately stifled his growth as he’s been unable to adjust to more advanced pitching.
Torres’ makeup may create a better opportunity, given the walks and line drive rate. The strikeouts need to be monitored, but given the other factors (including his age and the sample size) for now it’s not a significant red flag. Keep Russell in the back of your mind, but don’t shy away from Torres at this point.
Current Grade – A
Source – Fangraphs
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