Baby Bombers go deep, Tebow ignites rally in AFL win
Yankees' Torres, Bird join Mets outfielder to lead Scottsdale to 9-7 victory
By Doug Miller
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A trio of Yankees players and one very popular former Heisman Trophy winner (and NFL quarterback) teamed up to lead the Scottsdale Scorpions to victory in the Arizona Fall League on Thursday night.
"I'm just putting in a lot of hard work pregame in the cages with the hitting coach," Torres said through interpreter Carlos Mendoza. "I'm sticking to that routine, and when the game starts I'm just having fun."
Torres combined with fellow Yankee Greg Bird, who also homered, and Miguel Andujar, to account for six of their team's nine RBIs.
And Tim Tebow, the famous football player now transitioning to baseball as a Mets farmhand, drilled a single, stole a base and made a sliding catch in left field.
Torres came to the plate with two out in the top of the third inning against Salt River starter Chris Ellis (Atlanta's No. 16-ranked prospect) and blasted a ball over the wall in left field to pace a five-run inning. It was the latest big hit in what seems to be a daily show of offense for Torres, who arrived in New York as the most heralded prospect in the Deadline trade with the Cubs for closer Aroldis Chapman.
But Tebow was the one who got the inning started, leading off the inning with a sharp line drive to center field. According to Statcast™, the exit velocity on his hit was 105.7 mph, making it the fourth-hardest hit ball of the game and second-highest exit velocity of any hit in the game behind Christin Stewart's 106.0 mph single.
Tebow then stole second base in 3.88 seconds, reaching a maximum speed of 19.5 mph. He slid to make a catch in left field in the fifth inning and then struck out in his final three at-bats to go 1-for-4. He is batting .125 in AFL play.
"I'm very happy for him," Torres said of Tebow. "We know how hard he works, and seeing the results on the field is great."
Torres is 19 years old, which makes him the youngest player in the league, and he's the second-highest-ranked prospect playing in the Fall League, behind MLB Pipeline's No. 1 overall prospect, Red Sox infielder Yoan Moncada. And Torres is excelling, having just won the AFL Player of the Week Award and now blasting his third home run of the season. He has seven RBIs and is batting .357 with a 1.221 OPS.
But Torres isn't the only Yankee doing damage.
Bird, a Major Leaguer coming back from shoulder surgery that robbed him of the 2016 season, served as the Scorpions' designated hitter and went 1-for-3 with a two-run homer to right field in the top of the seventh inning that gave Scottsdale the lead for good.
"I'm glad to be playing," Bird said. "If anything, I have something to prove too."
That 1-0 lead held until the top of the third inning, when the Scorpions broke through with their five-run outburst. After Torres' homer, Ryder Jones (San Francisco Giants) added an RBI double and was singled in by Andujar.
The Rafters scored four times in the bottom of the fourth to tie it up, with Brewers right fielder and No. 7 prospectBrett Phillips (62nd overall) doubling in two runs and Demeritte doubling in another pair.
Salt River took a 6-5 lead in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI single by designated hitter Isan Diaz (Brewers' No. 8, No. 96 overall). That lead held until Bird's homer in the seventh gave Scottsdale a 7-6 lead.
Right fielder Aaron Brown (Phillies) tacked on two insurance runs for Scottsdale with a two-run homer to right center in the top of the eighth. Brown also turned in the defensive highlight of the game, racing into foul territory in the second inning and tumbling into the bullpen to make a catch. Salt River scored a run in the bottom of the eighth on another Diaz RBI single to make it 9-7.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.