Updated: Dec 5, 2021
WELCOME TO THE DIRTY FLIRTY.
These are my top 40 prospects in The Cardinals organization, aside from the players that I’ve already covered in The Dirty Annexes. This little ditty here is the preface to all of the post in our Dirty series. So, if you’ve read this once then you don’t need to read it again!
A warning to those looking for Lars Nootbaar, Scott Hurst, Junior Fernandez, Johan Oviedo, Jake Woodford, Edmundo Sosa, and anyone aside from Angel Rondon that has already made a major league debut: That’s not really my bailiwick, as I’m sure you’ve heard enough about those guys from more qualified outlets already. Most of those guys have exhausted their prospect status, anyway.
A reminder that this is an exercise in futility, ranking prospects. It’s a landscape that is ever-changing and developing. We are almost always talking about kids that are just starting to understand both themselves and their bodies, while learning the most difficult and nuanced sport in the land. You never know when someone is going to start doing 200 pushups per day on their way to postseason glory.
I ask for your thoughts and feedback. I ask that you have fun. I ask that you remember that I’m a moron. Most importantly, I ask that you take all of the prospect rankings from every outlet in the spirit of what they are: a snapshot of that moment, with a bent towards understanding what might come.
#26: Outfielder Jhon Torres
22 Years Old On Opening Day
Acquired from The Guardians as part of the Oscar Mercado trade
Sometimes you’ll come across a prospect that is caught in the middle. Jhon Torres is one of those prospects. He's also just now entering his age 22 season following the loss of his age 20 season to COVID. So, there's reason to not over-invest too much into what we saw during the 2021 season.
In Torres’s case, he is a prospect caught between approaches. He’s a young man that seems to understand that he has tremendous slugging potential. He’s also a young man that knows that he needs to refine his approach at the plate and do a better job of hunting for his pitch when it’s time for him to hunt for a pitch. Watching a kid meld these two things together can be a beautiful thing. The problem is, it’s so much easier said than done, and it usually takes some time to get there.
Right now, Torres seems tentative in the box. Afraid to let loose and afraid to strike out. In an at-bat, it appears that Torres is trying to not mess up. Some of the aggressive nature that I loved about him is gone, and that’s clear in his slowed down swing. It bums me out even more because this wasn't the way that Torres's season started.
Before we get into the stats, the other thing to keep in mind about Torres’s 2021 season is that he was asked to leadoff for Peoria. I haven’t been able to get this confirmed, but I believe that this was – in part – designed to help get him comfortable with the melding of the two prior-mentioned approaches. It was designed to put him in a position where he'd be forced to see more pitches within an at-bat. Even more, it was paying off for Torres. Through the last day of June, spanning 40 games, Torres was hitting 296/344/456. It was an unusual start to the season because he was still striking out 20.8% of the time while only walking 6% of the time, and he didn't really slug the ball at all for the first month of the season.
Even better, Torres was becoming a doubles machine like we always thought he could. Fifteen doubles in his first 183 plate appearances to start the season worked just fine. It was the month of June when Torres started to incorporate slugging into his approach. Over the last 45 plate appearances within that 183 PA sample, Torres had hit all four of his homers to go along with four doubles. He only struck out eight times over this small sample, as well. There was a lot to get excited about, and a lot that seemed to be going in the right direction. It looked like he had turned a corner in balancing those two approaches, while having a little luck back on his side.
Unfortunately, with the month of July came an 0-19 stretch that he never seemed to work his way out of. The approach and the gains, the melding of those two philosophies, went out the window and Torres began to swing freely. Then, he tried to course correct. This is where that quick and controlled swing with an ideal and majestic bat path became a swing from someone that was trying to A) not strikeout and B) not mess up. He’d still hit the ball, but it was more luck-based hits than anything else. Early in the season, Torres would keep his elbows closer to his body, and that seemed to change and get looser as the season went on. Also, as you've notice I'm sure, his timing can be weird because of that front foot of his. Sometimes he hovers it because he starts it too early and that when it really works against him. To me, continue to work on finding a timing mechanism that allows him to get more consistent timing is going to be "yuge" for him. This will also help him reach some of the power in his swing on all pitches, not just the stuff on the inner half.
Towards the end of August and into September, Torres walked into a homer and it kind of reignite him at the plate. Unfortunately, Torres followed that up with an 0-22 stretch with nine strikeouts between September 8th and the 15th. This time around, it seemed like Torres was swinging more freely, as if he was trying to course correct too much with the learned lessons from his prior struggle. It sucked, but I liked that it was clear that he was learning how to adjust his approach. The cool thing about the minors is that it isn't always about the statistical success, but rather a lot about learning lessons and applying them. This is what Torres did, and he needs to continue to work to find the happy balance in all of it.
And that’s where we are as we enter the 2022 season with Torres. Torres possesses every raw gift that you’d want out of an outfield prospect. He has a very strong arm that can have uneven accuracy, and he is rangy in right field. Torres has been "fine" in center field when he has played there, as well.
Torres doesn’t have elite speed, but he runs extremely well (even though he isn’t a stolen base threat). Torres has extreme raw power that goes from gap to gap, and he uses all of the field when he is dialed in. It’s clear, and has always been clear, that he isn’t going to be the type of hitter to walk more than 8-10% of the time, but he’s also shown the ability to make up for that when he is feeling confident in his own skills.
With that in mind, much like with Lane Thomas before him, Jhon Torres seems like a prospect divided into two version of himself. The confident player that self-actualizes and knocks on the door of all of his potential, and the tentative and scared prospect that goes through long streaks of struggle because he's trapped in his own head.
At only 22 Years old to enter the 2022 season, I have all of the hope that Torres will let the confident baseball player within him get the upper-hand in that internal battle. It was a "down" 2021 season for Torres at the plate, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if Torres hits the hell out of AA in 2022.
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Thank For Reading!!