At just the age of eighteen years old, Luis Torrens is used to new environments. He just became a legal adult three months ago, and the Yankees’ top prospect has already been signed out of Venezuela for $1.3 million, played in the Rookie League, had a brief stint in Low-A Charleston, and now resides in Staten Island with the Staten Island Yankees.
When you’re changing environments—especially when moving to a new country—you’re constantly making adjustments, both with your game, but also with how you handle yourself. His manager Mario Garza emphasized Torrens’ quest to master the English language in adjusting to his new life: “We’re trying to get his English skills to improve, which he does a great job at. The ability to communicate in-game with umpires, pitchers–those are a couple of things that come to mind”. And even though he’s still learning, does that hinder his relationship with his pitchers? Garza doesn’t think so: “He’s a very good communicator, guys find a way to communicate–he’s very good at that.”
That isn’t the only thing that he’s adjusting. Torrens was actually a shortstop in Venezuela during his early youth, and only now are the Yankees converting him given his build. It’s a change, but he’s already found himself to be a plus-performer in all aspects of that part of the game. Garza echoed that: “He’s a good worker… We’re always working on his receiving, blocking… he’s an exceptional thrower, but with the catching position being new to him, the receiving and blocking is a big adjustment for him…” His manager may be honest in his development, but it’s clear that he’s way ahead of the curve. At eighteen and three months old, he is three years younger than the average Short Season player. One senior scout I spoke to had similar praise for his advanced play at such an age: “He’s clearly the best player on the field. If I had never seen him and you told me that he was just eighteen years old, I wouldn’t believe you”.
In terms of his scouting projection, Torrens profiles as a floor of a role 4 backup catcher–at least–and his ceiling is as high as a first-division perennial all-star. Because of his age and current size (six feet tall, 175 pounds), there’s still physical and mental growth to be had. It appears like his body is capable of holding a mature player, but whether he is mentally capable, that has yet to be seen. His manager gives him a plus-makeup, so that helps in that department. His on-the-field play is excellent, though. Defensively, one could never imagine him as a shortstop. He blocks the plate very well, has a strong throw that is currently decent but will certainly grow into a plus-plus tool, and his receiving seems to be adequate via the eye test. He maintains an excellent rapport with his pitchers and, even though he can’t speak English with them–looks generally in-sync with them. He looks like a leader, and that should only improve as he matures.
At the plate Torrens looks even more skilled than behind it. He has an advanced approach at the plate; he keeps his whole body level and balanced, does not swing at anything out of the zone, and has a quick and strong stroke. His swing is tailor-made for extension, but even when pitchers tried to jam him inside, his hands were quick enough to get inside the baseball. The only knock I have on him is that sometimes he’s too confident in his ability to hit–I found him slamming his bat in discontent when striking out. If his makeup does indeed check out, then his frustration could just be growing pains. I’m going to say that that is probably true.
As a full player, Luis Torrens is exciting and dynamic on both sides of the field. He has plus abilities in every category of his game except for speed, and the only thing that would hinder his success is whether he keeps up his hard work. If everything works out, you’re looking at a .275/.350/.400 hitter with 15-20 home runs a year, solid defense, good pitch framing, and excellent clubhouse leadership. In a system that is clogged with decent backstops, Torrens could at the end of the day be the best of the bunch.
Photo Courtesy of MLBProspectPortal.com