Gleyber Torres has been dreaming of Sunday since he first picked up a baseball when he was 4 years old. And he had set two “dreams” for himself early on.
First was to sign a professional contract. Torres checked that box when he signed a minor-league contract with the Chicago Cubs in July 2013.
Fast forward four and a half years and the New York Yankees top prospect fulfilled his second baseball dream — to play in the big leagues. That came on Sunday when he took the field in Yankees pinstripes against the Toronto Blue Jays.
While Sunday didn’t end up exactly how Torres had pictured — he went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and stranded six base runners — the Yankees still won, 5-1, and he did exactly what he said he would while talking in front of his locker Saturday in Moosic one last time.
He helped his team win, like he vowed he would, making some nice plays at second, including a double play.
“I expected to win the game, help my team in every opportunity and enjoy my first time in the big leagues,” Torres told reporters after the game.
Despite his slow start, there’s no reason to panic.
In fact, in the RailRiders’ season opener on April 6, Torres was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. And he was 1-for-5 with a home run the following night. He finished his 14-game stint with the RailRiders with a .347 batting average and 11 RBI, both good for second on the team.
Torres’ baseball IQ will keep him afloat while he adjusts to the major league game.
“When he came to me, I was really impressed with how he prepared,” RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell said. “He knows pitchers really well. He remembers them really well and can recite the pitches they threw him, and I think that will be big when he gets up there, being able to do that even though he has a lot of information. I think when you know it yourself and you can process it, it’s good.”
When Mitchell was asked on Saturday what Torres’ potential at the next level could be, he compared the top prospect to Baltimore Orioles outfielder Mark Trumbo.
Mitchell managed Trumbo when the he was with Triple-A Salt Lake in 2010.
While their games don’t exactly compare, it was more of the fact that Mitchell could tell Trumbo was about to be something special just like Torres. Except Torres’ ceiling might be higher.
“He’s a big leaguer now, but he still can get so much better,” Mitchell said. “A lot of times I see like Trumbo, or somebody like that — he was a big leaguer in the making when I had him and that’s what (Torres) was — but now he’s a big leaguer. Maybe he’s an all-star in the making. Hopefully.”
In his 10th season in the Yankees organization, RailRiders catcher Kyle Higashioka has seen plenty of big-time prospects and first-time callups.
He also got his first big-league promotion himself a season ago. So he knows what it takes to make it at the next level.
After playing with Torres for the last month and spending time together in spring training, Higashioka can tell that the 21-year-old has the ability to help out at the next level. Immediately.
“It was really good to see him, like, as soon as the season started, turn it on,” Higashioka said. “That’s him. He’s a great hitter. He’s going to bring some good pop to the lineup up there. He’s also a good teammate, too.”
Mitchell has arguably seen Torres more than anyone else in the organization, being Torres’ manager for portions of each of the last two seasons after Torres was traded to the Yankees in July 2016.
For Torres, the key is to not get too overwhelmed while he adjusts to life in the majors. While Mitchell admits it’s tough to “play relaxed” at first, he believes Torres can do it.
Only time will tell what’s in store for the No. 6 prospect in baseball, according to Baseball America.
“At a young age, the sky’s the limit for him,” Mitchell said. “If he just stays within himself, goes up there, plays the game the way he knows how to play it, stays relaxed, but it’s not easy to play relaxed all the time up there when you first get up there, but I’m sure he’ll be fine. I’m sure the guys up there will make him feel wanted and part of the team, that’s the way they are. He’ll fit right in.
“He’s got power, he can hit for average, he has a good idea of the plate and he’s just kind of gotten better and better at that since he’s been at Trenton.”
Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle