Yankees prospect wins award after taking batting title with .403 average
By Mike Rosenbaum
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- As the youngest player in this year's Arizona Fall League, Gleyber Torres was also its best.
The Yankees' No. 2 prospect was honored as such at Scottsdale Stadium on Saturday, where he was presented with the Joe Black Most Valuable Player Award. En route to his MVP honors, Torres also led the league in hitting, earning him the EyePromise vizual EDGE PRO Batting Title Award.
"Before I came here, I prepared myself very well," said Torres. "I always prepare."
Only 19, Torres hit .403 to become the youngest batting champion in the history of the league. In addition to his league-best average, Torres paced the circuit in on-base percentage (.513) -- thanks in part to a 14-8 walk-to-strikeout ratio -- and OPS (1.158) and finished second in slugging (.645). He tallied 25 hits, including three home runs, four doubles and one triple, and scored 15 runs in 18 games for Scottsdale.
Torres signed with the Cubs for $1.7 million out of Venezuela in 2013, then came to the Yankees as the key piece in the Aroldis Chapman trade on July 25. He spent all of 2016 in the pitcher-friendly Class A Advanced Florida State League, where he produced a .270/.354/.421 batting line with 11 homers in 125 games between Myrtle Beach and Tampa.
"I felt honored by the trade, because I was traded for one of the best pitchers in the game right now," said Torres. "I feel honored to come here and represent the Yankees."
Torres also showed a flair for the dramatic during his time in the desert, delivering a walk-off hit with the bases loaded against Glendale on Oct. 15 and homering in an MLB Network televised game on Oct. 27.
And while he ultimately won the AFL batting title by 50 points -- Nationals No. 8 prospect Andrew Stevenson finished second with a .353 average -- Torres owned a mere .0005 lead in the race over Peoria's Zach Vincej before going 3-for-4 in his final game for Scottsdale on Nov. 16. He finished the Fall League with a six-game hitting streak, half of which were three-hit performances.
Making Torres' performance even more impressive in the Fall League was that he did it while learning a new position, second base, where he played seven of 16 games in the field. Prior to the Fall League, Torres had played just one game at the keystone in three Minor League seasons.
"I felt good, I felt comfortable," said Torres. "I just need a little more seasoning over there, but I felt really good and comfortable over there."
With the Fall League now behind him, Torres is eager to showcase his talent next season in Double-A, knowing that the level will present new challenges.
So far, however, there's been no challenge too big for the 19-year-old shortstop.
"I'm just going to rest and get ready for next year," said Torres.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.