The Yankees sent seven players to this year’s Arizona Fall League, highlighted by No. 2 overall prospect, Estevan Florial. After two weeks, Florial is still working off the rust of a broken right hamate bone.
Following the first 14 Arizona Fall League games, the Yankees affiliate, Glendale Desert Dogs are 4-10.
Considering the entire season lasts all of six weeks (30 games, not including the All-Star and Championship Games), it’s imperative that the seven players representing the Yanks don’t take too long to get going.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what is happening with Estevan Florial, the No. 45 overall prospect in baseball according to MLB Pipeline.
Through 11 games and 39 at-bats, the 20-year-old center fielder is slashing .128/.209/.205 with four runs scored, one triple, one home run, six RBIs and an alarming 15:4 K:BB ratio.
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Appearing in 75 games this past season at High-A Tampa and another nine in the Gulf Coast League, Florial missed almost two months after sustaining a broken right hamate bone in mid-May.
Despite a strong finish to the minor league season, including a .317 batting average during his final 19 games and finishing 16th in walks in the Florida State League, an unnamed scout recently told NJ.com that Florial needs to stop pressing if he is to take the next step in the evolution of his game.
"“When Florial squares it up, the ball jumps off his bat. He’s running and he’s playing defense. But I’m seeing what I’ve seen in the past at the plate. He’s still swinging and missing. He’s chasing bad pitches out of the zone, especially late in counts. When he gets in pitchers’ counts, he’s chasing the pitchers’ out pitches.“Despite the chasing, you can’t help but like what you’ve seen in the past and you know that he had a lot of downtime this year with the wrist injury. Watching him in Arizona, I think Florial is still trying to get back into the groove. This experience is good for him because he’s facing some pitchers who have pretty good arms. He’s just scuffling a little bit."
Naturally, it will take some time for Florial to get back into the swing of things (no pun intended).
However, in a sign of good things to come, he was able to successfully decrease his strikeout rate from 31.5 in 2017 to 24.5 percent in 2018 while raising his walk percent from 10.5 to 12.8
Florial will likely begin next season back in High-A with a potential mid-season move to Double-A Trenton in the cards if he can prove better consistency in his approach at the plate.
Often referred to as the Yankees centerfielder of the future, there is currently no need to rush Florial along, not with Aaron Hicks coming off a solid big league campaign — and Clint Frazier capable of playing center if need be.
The goal for the remainder of the AFL will be for Florial to finish the year on a solid note, because should he remain injury-free in 2019, the Yankees will expect more on offense than he recently provided at High-A: .255/.354/.361 across 294 at-bats while scoring 45 runs, 16 doubles, three triples, three home runs, 27 RBIs and an 87:44 K:BB ratio.
Hopefully, Florial can use the AFL as a springboard to success the way standouts Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres recently did.