Updated: May 2, 2019
THIS IS A COUNTDOWN!!!!! Over the next forty-something days starting on February 12th and ending on March 28th, I will be rolling out my Top 35 prospects in the Cardinals organization. We call it "The Dirty Thirty-Five" because it's marketable, I think. Also, we call it that because my write-ups and evaluations are a little different. I’m kind of quirky and goofy guy and the evaluations fit that personality. I've already written about the four players that graduated off the list. I've also written about the guys that just missed the list. You should check those out because you're going to have questions about my sanity afterwards. The article about the guys that didn’t make the D35 is really freaking good. This list is my own. It's terrible. I'm fine with it. Remember, have fun with these lists. Ranking prospects is a joke, but it's fun so treat all of the prospect ranking accordingly.
Jhon Torres - Outfielder
Acquired from CLE as part of the Oscar Mercado trade in 2018
Extended Spring Training
STATS AS OF 2018 AS HE PREPS AT EST
This is the story of a highway robbery that represents a small change in philosophy among the Cardinals' brass.
For the life of me, I can't think of the last time that the Cardinals traded one of their more impressive prospects that was knocking on the major league door for a risky, but VERY high reward, prospect. That's just not what the Cardinals do. Even while operating from a position of strength, like the were from an outfield depth standpoint when they made the trade. This just isn't something that this administration does.
And that should have been our first clue as to how special Torres has a chance to be.
Now, before we get too deep into this, I'm going to say nearly the exact same thing that I said when we went over our #15 prospect Malcom Nunez just a few days ago. First, while Torres is an extremely talented young man that is physically gifted beyond his age. He has tools far beyond the levels that he's played at, he's still only made it as far as the GCL.
There is a lot of distance and time between now and when Torres will potentially become major league relevant. Adjust your excitement accordingly.
Of course, I say that, then I go on to say this: Torres is going to be a stud, and I like him about as much as I liked Oscar Taveras at the equal stage in their development. The late Taveras really took off during his age 19 season, which was his first taste of full season affiliated baseball. For Taveras, that was when Quad Cities was the Cardinals' A-affiliate. For Torres, it'll be Peoria. I don't want this to turn into an article where I'm comparing Taveras to Torres over and over again, so I'll stop there. Just know that there's a chance that Torres could be that good, if not better. It'll be fun to compare their age 19 seasons when the 2019 season is finished. Again, he's still so far away, and with some issues worth addressing.
One of the reasons that I am so bullish on Torres is that he already appears to be making big adjustments as pitchers are adjusting to him. As I've written many times at this point, one of the areas of concern that I had about Torres is what would happen to his power if he down-sized his large leg-kick. To give you an idea of what I'm talking about, refer to this .gif (and thanks to FanGraphs):
NOW, watch this .gif below, taken a little over a year later. First, you'll notice that Mr. Torres has filled out a bit, but the right kind of way. After that, you'll notice that his leg-kick has calmed down. After that, you'll notice that the power is still there. He absolutely, and comically, unloads on this pitch:
Kind of looks a little bit like Edgar Renteria, to me, with that follow through. I LOVE Torres' swing. LOVE IT. Everything about it. It's lightning quick. It stays in the zone. It has a beautiful plane about it. His hands are in a perfect position for him. Every part of it is working in unison. I like this kid at the dish so damn much.
It seems like Torres has done an amazing job of cleaning up some of the "free-ness" in his swing, but he still swings wildly sometimes. This next swing came over a year ago and I don't feel like I've seen much of this wildness since then, but this is what it looks like when he's over-swinging:
Just like with Mr. Nunez, there is some concern about the mass that he is putting on. He's gotten pretty bulky in one year. As I said, Mr. Torres' bulk seems more along the muscle-side as compared to Nunez's "pudge," but it's still a little pudgy. This is still a teenager that we are talking about, and there's going to be some baby fat to work with. I have no doubt that Torres will get it together, if he even really needs to get it together.
Another thing that I have noticed with Torres is that he doesn't appear to be as quick as he was a year ago. This is probably because of the bulk that he's added. I don't view this as a concern, either. Especially because he's still pretty quick, and he runs like a normal human being unlike the choppy little steps of a baby dinosaur that Nunez takes.
If anything, this little tidbit just reinforces that Torres is best suited for a corner outfield position instead of center. He's basically been confined to a corner, anyway, so it's barely even "info" that I'm sharing. Every report that I've seen says that Torres has a "plus" arm in the corner, but I've never actually seen it during game action. So, I'm going to hold off on saying how I feel about it. I guess the only question left to be answered is how his agility and quickness will continue to develop as he puts on more weight.
And that's all that I'm going to say about Torres. Just like with Nunez, we must wait and see what 2019 has in store for this gifted young man. It's exciting to have a player as toolsy (yet far away) and with this much potential in the Cardinals' organization. Unfortunately, it's also dangerous, from an expectations standpoint. Kick back, relax, and wait for the 2019 season before getting too hyped (says the hypocrite). Also, pray that he starts in Peoria, because I firmly believe that he's ready for the challenge.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If Torres had played all year in the DSL instead of the GCL, then he would have flipped spots with Nunez on the list. If Torres produced this way at Johnson City or any level above that, then he'd easily be a top ten prospect in the organization. Torres might be the most rawly-gifted hitter in the organization, and it's going to be interesting to see how that progresses in 2019. This goes double if the Cardinals are smart and promote him to Peoria to start the season. If that's the case, then it'll be all hands on deck, from an anticipation standpoint. Even with all of the promise and the potential, there is still a better chance that he fizzles out than there is that he maxes out. I believe in him, but only time will tell.
Thank you to FanGraphs for both the stats and video to .gif. Love that FanGraphs.
Thanks For Reading!!