As recently as 2015 – and for the few seasons prior – there had usually been a single, consensus top prospect in the Cubs system. Kris Bryant was that guy for a while, Javy Baez was that guy for a while and even Anthony Rizzo was, at one point, that guy for a while.
Fast-forward to 2016, and the Cubs system is still quite strong, but there’s a lot less certainty near the top. To be certain, it mostly comes down to preference.
Specifically, you have both Willson Contreras leading the Cubs minor league system (a AAA catcher on the verge of the Major Leagues) and Gleyber Torres right beside him (a young, talented shortstop with a ton of upside, that we may not see for a good long while). Whether you prefer the lower-risk, slightly lower-reward catcher or the riskier, higher upside shortstop is up to you – I’m just glad the Cubs have both – but today, we’re going to talk about the latter…
…Because he crushed a big opposite field homer last night for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans and has been having quite a season, so far. Check it out:
That home run was Torres’ sixth of the season for the Pelicans and it helped cut their deficit in half last night. The Pelicans wound up winning the game 4-2 on Monday, and that homer was a part of Torres’ 1-3 night that also featured two walks.
On the season, Torres is slashing .253/.325/.430 with a 9.1% walk rate, a 23.0% strikeout rate and .177 ISO. That may seem underwhelming at first, but consider that 1) Torres is just 19 years old in A+ ball (just a promotion away from Double-A Tennessee) and 2) he’s doing that from the shortstop position. That’s impressive. But if you want to be better dazzled, let’s take a look at how he did over just the month of May.
From May 1 – May 30, Gleyber Torres slashed .306/.353/.519 with a .213 ISO…again, as a 19 year old shortstop in Advanced-A ball. Those numbers are good for a 148 wRC+ and a .396 wOBA. Although he walked a fair amount less during that stretch (6.7%), he struck out a lot less, as well (21.0%).
But let’s get a little more granular. In those 119 May plate appearances, Torres had 33 hits, including six doubles, a triple and five home runs (!). He walked 8 times and stole six bases (to just two caught stealing). Perhaps he got off to a slow start in April, but he has seemingly found his groove here in May. I don’t suspect we’ll see too aggressive of a promotion schedule for Torres, given how young he is, but there’s at least a chance he could spend some time in Tennessee before the season is up.
So maybe’s he’s not quite so far away, after all.