Scouting Yankees Prospect #15: Luis Torrens

Torrens is advanced in all phases of the game

The New York Yankees signed catcher Luis Torrens out of Venezuela for $1.3 million in July of 2012. Known for his advanced bat, he made remarkable strides on the defensive side of the ball in his debut season last year, enough to put him in some rare company among the Yankee prospects.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Luis Torrens
Position: Catcher
DOB: May 2, 1996
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 180
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

He hit just .241 with one home run for Gulf Coast League Yankees2 last year in his debut season but the numbers were a little misleading.

"If you were to take his Extended [Spring Training] numbers and combine them with the GCL you'd see much better numbers," GCL Yankees2 manager Mario Garza said. "For a kid who was the youngest kid in the league [with] his first time catching and then do it at 12 o'clock in the Florida sun everyday that's going to wear on you, and I think that's what we saw. But I expect big things out of him."

The pundits and stats junkies might not see what everyone else sees -- a highly advanced hitter, one who played all of last season as a 17-year old.

"You have to remember that he's only 17," GCL Yankees2 hitting coach Drew Henson said. "Before this he was playing with a high school junior.

"He's got great hit ability and a mature approach at the plate. He does a real nice job at hitter's counts of having good swings and pitches. He's only got room to grow. He's one of the best 17 year old hitters I've seen."

The one thing everybody sees is the offensive numbers. But behind the numbers not only was Torrens in his first season and doing so as the youngest player in the league, but he was doing it while learning the most demanding defensive position on the field.

"I wouldn't say it was 100 percent that," Torrens said through the help of a translator. "Some of it was because when the season started I was already tired but I have to make the adjustment and move forward.

"The hardest thing was letting go of the at-bats, the [previous] at-bats. That was challenging for me. I wanted to be able to let them go quicker and have a short memory but it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. That was the hardest thing for me."

Experiencing failure for the first time in one's life is arguably the hardest lesson any first-year pro must learn.

"Overall it was a learning year," Torrens added. "I was mostly getting experience learning from the coaches and from everybody [I could].

"My main goal was to learn better techniques how to catch and I think I learned a ton from all of the coaches and the players."

And that is where Torrens has really begun to turn a collective head. Usually it takes young catchers years to begin to pick up the nuances of catching but Torrens has made a rather seamless and smooth transition already.

"I'll start with really his biggest strength," said Garza, a former catcher, "he's probably the best natural catch and throw guy I've worked with which is a statement considering I've worked with [J.R.] Murphy and [Gary] Sanchez, and both of those guys are very good throwers, Sanchez being an exceptional thrower.

"But just the consistency of his exchange and the accuracy and arm strength, he's as good as anybody I've worked with and that's pretty special.

"Receiving-wise he's still getting used to velocity and movement at the professional level but from when he first signed to the end of Instructional League he made phenomenal improvements. Where is it now, it's well ahead of schedule for his age and experience level."

While the defensive game is coming along a lot quicker than anybody had the right to expect, he still has to contribute offensively. And while the numbers were not there last season, few expect those kind of continued struggles going forward.

"I know I'm going to hit a lot better [this] next year," Torrens said. "I just know next year is going to be better. I'm not worried about it. I know I can hit and I will hit."

"Everybody knows he can hit just watching his approach and his maturity, it's incredible for his age," Garza added. "I really expect him to come on strong next year and in years to come. I expect big things out of him."

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2013 GCL Yankees2 .241 174 7 1 14 17 2 27 40 .348 .299


Batting and Power. Torrens has all of the earmarks of being a high-average hitter in due time; above average bat speed of a short and compact stroke, an ability to drive the ball to all fields, exceptional plate discipline and pitch recognition, and above average patience. He simply doesn't try to do too much and takes what the pitchers give him. He has average long-term power potential right now at the catcher's position but there is a chance that could bump up a notch as he continues to develop his man strength.

Base Running and Speed. Like most catchers he doesn't project to be much of a running threat on the base paths. However, comparatively speaking, he is quicker and more athletic than most catchers so he is above average at his position. He could threaten double-digit stolen base seasons down the road

Defense. Torrens still has to make the adjustment framing pitches better as he gains more experience, especially in regards to getting accustomed to the better movement of professional pitchers, but he is already way ahead of the game for somebody his age. He is already an above average catch-and-throw guy right now, he shows real nimbleness blocking balls, and all of it spells long-term plus defensive potential.

Projection. With an innate ability to barrel the baseball and command the strike zone, his advanced feel for hitting to all fields, and long-term above average or better defensive abilities, whether exciting or not to some pundits, he compares quite favorably to current Yankee catching prospect J.R. Murphy because he offers one of better blends of high ceiling and high floor any Yankee teenage prospect has in recent memory. And like Murphy he projects safely as an eventual big league starting catcher, one who will contribute on both sides of the ball someday.

ETA. 2018. Torrens is going to move up the minor league ladder quickly at some point because his game is that advanced but the Yankees will probably be tempted to hold off on that for at least one more year. He should open up in the short-season leagues in 2014 once again, perhaps in Staten Island, but he should begin to move pretty quickly starting in 2015.

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