MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

Who's No. 1? The case for Torres

Jonathan Mayo argues that Yankees SS should lead Top 100 Prospects list

Who's No. 1? The case for Torres

MLBPipeline.com will unveil its 2017 Top 100 Prospects list on Saturday with a one-hour show on MLB Network and MLB.com at 8 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release, we make a case for three players -- Yoan Moncada, Gleyber Torres or Andrew Benintendi -- who could be the No. 1 overall prospect.

Gleyber Torres began the 2016 season in the Cubs organization and ranked No. 28 on our preseason Top 100 Prospects list. He moved up to No. 17 when we re-ranked the lists, though by then he was a Yankee, courtesy of the Aroldis Chapman deal in late July.

Just where will the talented middle infielder land on this year's Top 100 list, coming out on Saturday? A very strong case can be made that he should land in the top spot.

Recently ranked as the No. 1 shortstop prospect in the game, Torres has an extremely exciting combination of tools, instincts, makeup and maturity that all point to him becoming a future superstar.

The Cubs put Torres on a fast track to the big leagues and despite always being one of the youngest at his level, he's more than held his own. He was just 18 when he went to full-season ball and excelled enough in the Midwest League to earn a promotion up a level at the end of the 2015 season, where he promptly helped Myrtle Beach win the Carolina League title.

He performed well at that level, still as a teenager, in 2016, then even handled being traded -- often a tumultuous time -- like a veteran. But it's what he did in the Arizona Fall League that truly had the scouting industry, not to mention those of us who cover prospects for a living, abuzz.

Top Prospects: Torres, NYY

Now, the usual caveat about the AFL -- small sample size in a typically hitting-friendly environment -- does need to be thrown out there. But Torres may have been among the most impressive prospects ever to perform in the league. He was still only 19 and won the batting title with his .403 average, as well as MVP honors. He is the youngest player to win either in the quarter century the AFL has been in existence.

It's not just the numbers he put up; it's how he did it. As gaudy as his numbers were, ne never seemed hot. He just hit. He has a very advanced approach at the plate, with excellent plate discipline and patience. He uses the whole field, and his power is developing to all fields. This is a guy who is going to hit some home runs at the highest level, no doubt. Seeing Torres hit .300 with 20-plus long balls annually seems completely realistic.

When Torres first entered pro ball, most predicted a future position change, mostly because he doesn't have great speed and people thought he wouldn't have the range to stay at shortstop. Well, he's proven any doubters wrong. He has terrific actions and instincts to go along with plenty of arm for the premium position and there is no question he could stay there long term. Of course, if a team needed him to move, that wouldn't be a problem at all. Torres moved over to second during the AFL season and made the switch look easy.

And that leads to the part of Torres that really makes him a No. 1 caliber prospect. For all of his considerable skills, his work ethic and makeup allow all of it to play up even more. Torres looked like he belonged on the AFL fields, despite being so young, and not in an overly cocky way. He's a natural leader, the kind who looks you in the eye when he talks to you, the kind you can imagine being the captain of an infield in the future.

Having tools is great, but the history of baseball is full of players with tools who never knew how to maximize them. Watch Torres for any length of time and you leave with no doubt he will put in the work and make the adjustments to always make himself a better player. At the same, he will make others around him better and that is a recipe for superstardom.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.