He’s back! Or so it looks like. For the month of April, the Cubs top prospect, Gleyber Torres turned in a riveting batting average of .179. At young age of 19 years old, Torres is in high class A Myrtle Beach this year. It’s been a period of adjustment, something he’s never really had to go through. And I think it has been a good thing. Some of it might have been the cold weather, some of it might have been his approach, and some of it might have been being pitched to in a different way.
Over the last 12 days, Torres finally looks like he’s in a groove. He’s taking walks, he’s hitting home runs (he’s never really done a lot of that before), and it looks like the Gleyber Torres from 2015 has arrived in 2016. What I like most is 2016 Torres seems to have more power than 2015. I find this odd because the Carolina League is a notorious pitcher’s league and he plays in a pitchers’ park. On the other hand, he’s had as many homeruns in six weeks as he did in all of 2015
When looking at his splits, I noticed a couple weeks ago that he hits better with men on base. Since Rashad Crawford has returned to the Pelicans’ lineup, Torres his average in that span is .375 (12/32) for the month of May. For a Caribbean or South American player to have slow start is not uncommon. However, Myrtle Beach is not the Midwest. Cold for Myrtle Beach is warm for South Bend. And last year, Torres hit .352 in South Bend during April, although the temperature was in the lows 70s most days.
When you start comparing his batting splits for last year, there is a little difference.
April – .179
April – 352
Over the course of the summer, Torres’ batting average dropped slightly before dropping precipitously in August. He seemed to wear down that last month as an 18 year old.
This year he started off slow and is really turning it on. I think the stat that sticks out the most this year is that Torres is striking out a lot. He has 33 Ks in 29 games or 1.14 Ks/game. Last year, his K rate or less than 1/game. In May, during his streak, he is even at a higher rate of 12 in 9 games or 1.33 per game.
Another factor for Torres’ troubles is that a pitcher in high A is more around the plate. He’s going to see more strikes, which I think is going to help him in the long run.The question is whether those pitches will be strike that he can do something with. I would not be surprised to see his batting average continue to rise over the next two weeks. Currently he is at .236 after being at .179 10 days ago.
Coming into this season, Torres was a near unanimous selection as the Cubs top prospect with only Baseball Prospectus selecting Willson Contreras. Let’s consider what Fangraphs had to say about his projection for 2016 for Torres
He has excellent balance and a strong lower half, with smooth hands and a selective approach in game. There is work to do on pitch recognition, but that is likely to come with more repetitions rather than being an innate problem. Torres looks to me like an elite major league hitter who will have situational power, making pitchers pay for mistakes left up in the zone.
The kep phrase, to me, in that analysis is “transition.” Nobody ever foresees a slump. I think management likes to see a player go through a slump to see how he deals with adversity. In this case, Torres is starting to come out the other side and is headed in the right direction.
With Ian Happ behind him in the order, I still think it’s going to be exciting summer to watch those two prospects hit their way through the Carolina Legua. But I’m also interested in seeing whether Gleyber’s power grows. It looks like he’s grown a little bit from last year. He could have. he’s just 19 years old. He’s going to have his ups and downs. Torres just happened to have one at the beginning of this year.