The bright spotlight rigged up to shine on the Chicago Cubs’ farm system in recent years has made it virtually impossible to miss any of the big names or big performances. When an exciting front office comes into a major market with a plan to revamp the minor leagues in a very visible way, attention will refocus on those minor leagues, and, especially here in the Internet era, the “oh wow, who’s this guy” phenomenon will all but disappear.
So I won’t pretend you don’t know Gleyber Torres.
Instead, let me submit to you that it’s possible to be completely aware of the Cubs’ next great shortstop prospect without entirely appreciating just how impressive he’s been in his time with the organization. The spotlight shines brightly upon the Cubs’ farm stage, but, hey, the man running the spotlight can only move it around so quickly. You may have missed some of the blocking.
When the Cubs made the then-16-year-old Venezuelan shortstop prospect one of the biggest IFA signings of the year back in 2013, there was reason to hope Torres could be a relatively fast mover. His game was polished, and his swing was steady. He also showed advanced instincts for his age. He was the type who could be Stateside by the time he was 18, and might even climb the ladder to full-season ball by the time he was 20.
Those hopes, clearly, were conservative.
Not only did Torres make it Stateside in his first year of organized pro ball, he got a look-see at short season Low-A. For the year—again, it was his first professional season and he was younger than the high schoolers being drafted that summer—Torres hit .297/.386/.440 between rookie ball and short season Low-A, demonstrating an advanced understanding of the strike zone against much older pitching, as well as an ability to barrel the ball to both fields.
So impressive was Torres’ debut that he was firmly on folks’ radar heading into Spring Training ….