New York's No. 2 prospect starts at second base before coming up big in ninth
By Mike Rosenbaum
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Gleyber Torres may be one of the younger players in this year's Arizona Fall League, but you would never know it based on the 19-year-old shortstop's impressive showing in the season's first week.
"I don't try to put too much pressure on myself," Torres said. "I just want to show everybody my abilities and go out there and have some fun."
The Yankees' No. 2 prospect accomplished both of those on Friday night as he delivered a bases loaded walk-off single to lead Scottsdale past Glendale, 8-7, at Scottsdale Stadium.
David Fletcher (Angels' No. 9) coaxed a leadoff walk to open the bottom of the ninth and then advanced to third on a double by 2014 AFL MVP Greg Bird. The Saguaros opted to intentionally walk Hunter Cole to load the bases ahead of Torres, who belted a 1-2 fastball from Rowan Wick over the left fielder's head for the game-winner.
"I was just trying to put the ball in play," said Torres about his walk-off hit. "I saw that the infield and outfield were in, so I just wanted to put the ball in play."
The hit was one of two collected by Torres in the game, as he also showed impressive opposite-field power with a ground-rule double to right-center field -- nearly the same spot to which he homered on Wednesday -- in the fourth inning. He finished 2-for-4 at the plate, also scoring two runs and drawing a walk, to lift his AFL average to .375 through two games.
Making Torres' performance even more significant was the fact that he started the game at second base, marking just the second time in his three-year career that he had played the position. The 19-year-old shortstop looked like a natural at the keystone, starting one double play and turning another.
"I was working before the game on turning double plays," said Torres, MLBPipeline.com's No. 17 overall prospect. "I was prepared, and I'm happy the opportunity presented itself where we could turn a couple.
"I feel really comfortable [at second base]. There's nothing different about it, really. The bottom line is I have to prepare every day to play the game."
The two teams exchanged runs in the first inning, with Glendale's Carson Kelly (Cardinals' No. 11) plating a run on a sacrifice fly in the top half and Scottsdale scoring in the bottom of the frame on a throwing error.
The score remained tied until the bottom of the fourth inning, when the Scorpions erupted for five runs on four hits. Giants No. 6 prospect Aramis Garcia started the scoring with a two-run single to left field, while Aaron Brown's (Phillies) booming home run to right field increased Scottsdale's lead to 6-1. Garcia struck again in the following frame, tallying his third RBI of the game on a line-drive double to right field.
But the Desert Dogs wouldn't go down without a fight, as they quickly trimmed the deficit with three runs in the top of the sixth courtesy of a Paul DeJong (Cardinals' No. 15) RBI single and a two-run homer to right field by No. 87 overall prospect Willie Calhoun (Dodgers' No. 4). Glendale tacked on another run in the top of the seventh, when Kelly pushed across a run on a double play.
Glendale continued to rally in the top of the ninth, as Harrison Bader (Cardinals' No. 3) delivered an RBI single to right field and Ramon Laureano (Astros) followed with a sacrifice fly to tie the game, 7-7, ultimately setting the stage for Torres' heroics.
Giants No. 21 prospect Hunter Cole had another strong game at the plate for Scottsdale as he went 2-for-3 with a run scored while also reaching base on a hit-by-pitch as well as a walk. Through three Fall League games, the 24-year-old outfielder is batting an even .500 (5-for-10). Garcia also finished 2-for-3 at the plate and paced the Scorpions' offense with three RBIs.
Scottsdale starting pitcher Chris Stratton (Giants' No. 26), who worked 10 innings in the big leagues with San Francisco during the regular season, tossed four strong frames, allowing one run on five hits to pick up the win for Scottsdale. The right-hander fanned three without issuing a walk and also generated six ground-ball outs.