Pittsburgh Pirates: Why is Huntington Targeting Gleyber Torres?

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Rumors: Yesterday it was reported that the Pittsburgh Pirates are still negotiating a trade with the New York Yankees regarding Gerrit Cole.

Throughout the last week, it has been reported by multiple insiders that the Pittsburgh Pirates are still in trade discussions with the Yankees about Gerrit Cole.  Up until now, Clint Frazier, a young outfielder, has been the main name brought up as the centerpiece of any Cole trade.  However, yesterday Jon Heyman tweeted that the Neal Huntington is targeting the Yankees top prospect Gleyber Torres as a return.  So who would the Pittsburgh Pirates be getting if they were able to work a deal for Torres?

Torres was originally signed by the Chicago Cubs back in 2013.  He was signed as an international free agent out of Venezuela, signing for a relatively large bonus of $1.7 million.  At the time of him signing, Torres was rated as the number two and number three international prospect by Baseball America and MLB Pipeline respectively.  Torres, at the time, was viewed as the best all-around prospect in the class.  MLB Pipeline noted that he did not have a trait that really stood out, but possessed all five tools, and would likely translate all five of them into professional baseball.

2014-2015

Torres made a quick first impression in his first professional season.  By the end of the 2014 season he had become ranked as the Cubs 14th best prospect, keep in mind that this was when the Cubs system was one of the best in baseball.  Torres did this by batting .297/.386/.440 as a 17-year-old, and he only struck out 40 times while walking 29 times in just 50 games.

For the 2015 season, Torres jumped up to be rated in the Cubs top 10 prospects, leading him to be their top prospect in the updated midseason rankings.  Part of this was because the Cubs started to graduate some of their top prospects, but also because Torres continued to show that he was one of the best all-around prospects in baseball.  As an 18-year-old, Torres participated in Low-A and High-A.  He hit for a combined .287/.346/.387.  Obviously, his slugging percentage was somewhat low, but one has to keep in mind that he more than handled full-season ball as an 18-year-old.  Many 18-year-olds usually are still struggling to find consistency at the Gulf Coast League. Torres proved to be more than four levels ahead of his age.

2016 Trade

2016 was the year that would change everything for Torres.  He finally became recognized as one the top 50 prospects in baseball as a 19-year-old.  He was easily the youngest player ranked in the top 50 by all major sites. Also, Torres was still regarded as the Cubs overall top prospect. He was so highly valued that the Cubs shipped him out in one of the biggest trades of that season. The deal was Aroldis Chapman for Torres, Billy McKinney, Adam Warren, and Rashad Crawford.

2016 with the Yankees

At the trade deadline, the New York Yankees were out of the playoff picture.  They sent Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs in a multiplayer trade, which was headlined by Gleyber Torres.  Torres was rated as the Yankees number two prospect, only behind Clint Frazier (the other player that is most connected to the Pirates in trade talks).  However, because the change of teams, Torres spent all of 2016 playing at the High-A level.  He saw his numbers dip some when he joined the Yankees, but still had an impressive 19-year-old season batting .270/.354/.422.

The Yankees wanted to get Torres more at-bats and see what they got for the best closer in baseball, so they sent Torres to the Arizona Fall League.  Torres quickly showed Yankees fans why he was the headliner in the deal.  He played in 18 games and batted a robust .403/.513/.645.  He only struck out eight times while walking 14 times.  This performance in the Arizona Fall League took Torres from being a top prospect to one of the best prospects in baseball.

Top Prospect in Baseball

Entering 2017, MLB Pipeline had Torres ranked as the number three overall prospect in baseball.  The only prospects ahead of Torres were Andrew Benintendi and Yoan Moncada.  Torres started the year for the Yankees’ Double-A team, batting .273/.367/.496 in 32 games.  Furthermore, he had 16 extra base hits, including five home runs and 10 doubles in those games. He struck out 21 times but also walked 17 times.  The Yankees quickly moved Torres up to Triple-A, where he participated in another 23 games, and put up very good numbers there.  His slash line was .309/.406/.457, though he did see his strikeout to walk ratio trend in the wrong direction compared to Double-A, striking out 26 times while only walking 13.  Still, these numbers were super impressive for a 20-year-old.

However, after his impressive 55 games of play, Torres would receive career-changing news.  In June, Torres was involved in a play that caused his UCL to tear in his elbow.  Torres would go on to miss the rest of the 2017 season due to Tommy-John surgery.  Even so, he was rated as the top overall prospect in baseball at the midseason update.  Also, being a middle infielder, Tommy-John surgery is not nearly the concern it is for pitchers. At the end of the day, he still projects as a top hitting prospect and still will possess a really strong glove.

Next: Pittsburgh Pirates Still in Talks with the Yanks

Get Top Value When It Is Available

If the Pittsburgh Pirates can get Torres they should.  He has mashed at every level, even though he was much younger than a majority of the players in the league.  He also is one of the best prospects in the game, and when trading a cheap controllable pitcher like Cole, Neal Huntington needs to acquire as much value/talent as possible. The Pittsburgh Pirates are aiming high in Torres, and they should, as he is legitimately one of the best talents in the minors.

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