Yankees future outfield is already playing together in Charleston

Mar 1, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; The sun sets behind the stadium in the first inning of a baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Atlanta Braves during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 1, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; The sun sets behind the stadium in the first inning of a baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Atlanta Braves during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports /

Yankees Gleyber Torres just got promoted to Triple-A. That makes him more than the future of the Yankees infield; it makes him the near-future. But if you want to see the Yankees future outfield, you have to look all the way down in Charleston. Blake Rutherford and Estevan Florial are splitting time at center but will soon be splitting Charleston.

The Yankees farm system makes headlines with every promotion. Well, unless you count Abiatal Avelino. And that attention is warranted because it has recently produced the Yankees most promising pitcher since Andy Pettitte (Luis Severino), the most promising catcher in baseball (Gary Sanchez), and the most promising power hitter in baseball (Aaron somebody).

I have no doubt Gleyber Torres will challenge Judge and Sanchez for the best player on the team; he’s that good. But way down in Low-A Charleston are two center fielders who might just be on a par with the above: Blake Rutherford and Estevan Florial.

Let the Comparisons Begin

They both arrived in the Yankees system as highly touted players. Rutherford was considered a top-five talent and was drafted 18th just last year. Florial, meanwhile, was a top international talent by 2014. But some bumps in the road kept the Yankees from acquiring him along with the rest of their heralded international signings of that summer.

Instead he joined the team in March of 2015 and few even noticed. Well, outside of the venerable Joel Sherman. His piece is a must-read.

So while they took different routes to South Carolina, they are proving almost exact matches as top-tier talent. They are the two best players on the team. Ben Ruta just got there, Hoy Jun Park and Angel Aguilar have error issues; Park has 14. Rutherford and Florial have a total of zero.

Their similarities only start there. Florial is batting .282; Rutherford, .281. Rutherford has an OBP of .368 and Florial is right behind at .366. And they both have worked 21 walks. You have to think these guys must be rooming together.

Of course, they are not the same in all categories. For instance, Florial has more hits (42/39), but Blake has more doubles (11/9). Whereas Rutherford leads in RBI’s (17/16), Estevan is first in homers (4/1). And to complete their statistical intertwining is that both were born in 1997.

Now, Let the Comparisons Begin

Estevan, however, is doing both much better and much worse than Rutherford. Florial leads the team in most of the important categories, starting with at-bats. He has made the most of his opportunity and also leads in runs, hits, home runs, and total bases. But he also leads the team with 50 strikeouts. That is a lot in any league and puts him on pace for 200.

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Blake has 32 of his own, and that’s a lot, but remember that 50 is more than a 50% increase from 32.

These numbers don’t exist in a vacuum, though. There is a whole league to compare them to. Once again, their numbers stand out.

They are both in the top 35 in batting average. That might not sound like much but remember that it is easy to hit and hard to play defense. As an example, just two of the players above Florial and Rutherford are Hoy Jun Park and Yanio Perez. Park, as you know, has 14 errors. Yanio is tops in the league in average but has six errors of his own. Neither is a serious prospect. My guess is a lot of the players 1-35 are in a similar situation.

When we switch to OBP, a more important stat, they come in at 25 (Blake) and 27 (Estevan). Florial is second in the league in runs, 16th in hits, and 10th in total bases. Rutherford, on the other hand, is tied with Florial for fifth in the league in walks and is 11th in doubles.

Sneak Peak: Yankees Estevan Florial is Unranked

His numbers, however, must be taken with a grain of salt. Blake has put up his numbers while being only 34th in at-bats with 139. Of the players above him, only ten have had the same number or fewer AB’s; most have had more. And, in some cases, a lot more. Estevan has ten more (149) while the leader is Leody Taveras, with 167 AB’s.

And if all of that is underwhelming, let me make one more comparison. Mickey Moniak was the first player taken last year, a high schooler like Rutherford. He is currently the 16th ranked prospect in all of baseball. He, too, is at Low-A.

But these are the categories that both Blake and Estevan either lead or tie Moniak in AVG, OBP, SLG, Doubles, RBI’s, and Total Bases. There is only one stat that Moniak leads these two in AB’s. That means the Yankees boys are producing a lot more for every at-bat.

By the way, Blake is ranked 32nd while Florial is unranked.

Next: The Yankees Amazing and Inconceivable season at the 40-Game Mark

All of that is likely to change, and soon. And, whether the promotions or the re-rankings come first, both Blake Rutherford and Estevan Florial will be moving up; in the rankings, in the leagues and the hearts and minds of Yankees fans.

With every promotion, the headlines will get bigger, and the Yankees future will get a little closer.

And a whole lot brighter.