New York Yankees Prospect Estevan Florial Is A Rising Star


Every now and then baseball provides you with a feel good story. For some, it’s a guy like Andy Pettitte getting drafted in the 22nd round of the 1990 Amateur Draft, rising through the minor leagues and turning into the most clutch pitcher in New York Yankees history. For others, it’s watching a guy like Derek Jeter turn into an icon by playing the sport we all love for 20-years, and playing it the right way. 

And perhaps the next feel good story for New York Yankees fans is developing right now in depths of the minor leagues;

Every day he would sit home in his native Dominican Republic and see teammate after teammate sign life-changing signing bonus’ with major league clubs in America. One by one, someone else’s dream was becoming a reality, but not his.

At that point, he didn’t have an identity. He literally didn’t have a name, and that nearly ruined his entire future. On paper they called him Haniel d’Oleo, but because that wasn’t his real name, he went from being one of the best international prospects in the world to nearly an after thought.

He would eventually make it to the United States where he would sign with the New York Yankees.

"“When the New York Yankees signed me, it no longer mattered how much money it was,” Florial told Joel Sherman of the New York Post. “I just wanted to play baseball.”"

A birth certificate.

The norm. Right?

Even outside of the United States, you are born, you get one, and that’s your identity.

Well, not for Estivan Florial.

His mother was native to Haiti, and his father, well, he disappeared. And so, when it was time for Florial to go to school with the rest of the children in the Dominican Republic, his mom accepted random paperwork that would get him enrolled, and the name on the paper work was of course Haniel d’Oleo.

Under the name Haniel d’Oleo the young man was able get an education and play ball, and of course develop into one the top international prospects in the world.

In July of 2014, Brian Cashman and the New York Yankees elected to use the international signing period to restock their weakened farm system. With the signing of d’Oleo as well as Dermis Garcia and Juan De Leon, the Yankees would spend way more than the allotted pool dollars and inherit penalties that would make them sit out the international signing periods until after July 2017, but to them it didn’t matter. They acquired players to build around for the future, and these guy were special.

However, d’Oleo showed up one day in the spring of 2014 to the Yankee minor league complex down in Santo Domingo and his nightmares quickly became a reality. He was informed that he was suspended by the MLB because his paperwork wasn’t in order, and his contract with the Yankees was terminated.

It’s common practice in Latin America for prospects to forge birth certificates to make them appear younger and more appealing to major league clubs, and to this day we still probably don’t know how old Miguel Tejada really is, but Florial insisted this wasn’t the case. The reason for his paper work being out-of-order dates back to the documents that granted him an education – the documents that said his name was Haniel d’Oleo.

Fortunately, with his baseball future in limbo, his kind-hearted mother flew back to her native Haiti to get her documents in order, and in the process she filed and received a birth certificate for her son Estivan Florial.

During this whole process, the Yankees who were so impressed with Florial, never let him slip away.

When all his documents were in order, Yankees GM Brian Cashman petitioned to Hal Steinbrenner to allow him to re-sign the international prospect, and in early March, Steinbrenner approved a $200,000 signing bonus for Cashman to use on resigning the future star.

Florial signed, and he rewarded the Yankees for their faith in him by being named the Co-MVP of last year’s Dominican Summer League post-season at just 17-years old. His performance was so dominant that a rival GM asked Brian Cashman for his services in a trade even though Florial had yet to log an inning of play in the United States, which is something so rare that Brian Cashman had never experienced it during his 20-year career as a general manager.

Of course Brian Cashman refused to part ways with Florial, and on January 25th he arrived in Tampa, Florida to begin workouts in Captain’s Camp, which is exclusively held for the organizations top prospects.

It’s certainly a long way from here to the majors for the 18-year old Estivan Florial, but it’s important that you don’t forget his name.

He might just be the next Yankees star.