1. CF Estevan Florial Charleston
You cannot rise to the top of these rankings and go unnoticed. Here is an article from the start of Florial’s career, two years ago. Jody Reed, the Yankees minor league field coordinator, had this to say:
"At a young age he’s hitting for power, he’s got a strong arm, he runs well, he seems to hit for average of course in a limited sample size. This kid has the chance to be a special player because he has the tools to do it. Estevan is very sharp. He speaks three languages so he’s a very sharp young man, a student of the game."
And this one from earlier in the 2017 season should bring you up to speed.
Clearly, Florial arrived with a lot of talent but not a lot of experience. But he started to show what he could do right away. He slashed .313/.394/.527 over 224 AB’s with seven home runs. What makes the homers so unique is that Florial was only 17 at the time. He already projected to hit for average and power.
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Last year saw Estevan struggle as he played against better, and overwhelmingly older, competition. He finished with a .227/.312/.371 slash but still provided plenty of promise. He hit eight home runs—as an 18-year old—and was promoted to Charleston from Pulaski before the end of the year.
The Yankees thought so much of him that they even let him play two days for Tampa in the middle of the season. That was not so much a tryout as a fill-in assignment, but it is telling that the Yanks chose Florial over his teammates.
Florial is a Soon-to-be Yankees Player
This year Florial is already fulfilling so much of his promise. His slash is stellar, recently dipping to .295/.377/.493. That goes with his eleven home runs and fifteen stolen bases in his 288 at-bats. But you can’t understand those numbers without a little context.
His ERA is eleventh best in the SAL, as are his home runs; his OBP is sixth best. Estevan is also sixth in total bases and eighth in walks, eleventh in home runs and ninth in slugging. And at least one of those home runs was a grand slam.
Florial is having a great year, especially for a 19-year old.
It’s so good that he was named not only to the All-Star team, but also to the Futures game. He was one of only two Yankees selected, along with Domingo Acevedo, and showed off his OBP skills. Estevan was behind in the count but came back to work a walk, later scoring. And that was off of Oakland’s 2016 first round pick and strikeout specialist A.J. Puk, who is at Double-A, two levels above Florial’s.
His one big problem is that he strikes out too much, currently has the third most in the league. But that is not a stumbling block for the major leagues, and Florial will be moving up soon.
Estevan Florial has big-time player written all over him. He has speed, power, and humility and earned his place as the Yankees 15th ranked prospect. And he’s the best Yankees prospect playing in the minors today.