After dealing Justus Sheffield to the Seattle Mariners for southpaw James Paxton, the New York Yankees have a new, but familiar top prospect. This prospect is rumored to have been demanded by teams like the Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants, and Arizona Diamondbacks in trades in exchange for current All-Stars that are on the trading block. One player would have reportedly been the difference from general manager Brian Cashman successfully acquiring the likes of Corey Kluber, Madison Bumgarner, or Paul Goldschmidt. This young man is named Estevan Florial, and you should thank your lucky stars that Cashman and other front office members have fallen in love with the toolsy outfielder.
Florial projects to be an extremely rare, true five-tool player. He receives plus grades in the field, at the plate, and on the base-paths. As MLB Pipeline says, “Florial has three tools that grade as well above average in his raw power, speed and arm strength. With the quickness and loft in his left-handed stroke, he’s built to do a lot of damage at Yankee Stadium.”
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He flashes the leather and has an absolute cannon for an arm. His plus-plus speed not only plays well as a baserunner but as a true centerfielder as well. His plus-plus arm strength will play at the corner outfield positions, but the Dominican native should unquestionably stick in center due to his good natural instincts and range.
The newly turned 21-year old is just 6’1” and 185 pounds but possesses lightning quick bat speed. This allows the outfielder to hit for both average and power. The baseball simply jumps off his bat when he squares the ball up. His leg-kick and aforementioned swing path will allow his power to play up at Yankee Stadium’s short porch in right.
Tampa Tarpons manager Pat Osborn echoed the sentiments of several sources when he told me last season, “Not only is he a tremendous player; he’s a tremendous person…if you could build a baseball player it would look like Florial if you could build a person it would look like him as well.” I was told that he bought a car in extended spring training a couple of years ago so that he could show up early to the Yankees minor league complex and stay late, and that he also cooks for all his teammates as well. Osborn continued to describe Florial by having three tremendous traits, “poise, respect, and humility.”
No prospect is a unicorn; every player has their faults. Florial’s knock throughout the baseball industry is his swing-and-miss problems. He has had an extremely aggressive approach at the plate thus far in his career, striking out at a 31% rate last season and 36% in the Arizona Fall League this winter. It has also been said that he has pitch recognition issues at times. Both of these are fixable issues and will improve with time. As Florial continues to develop these faults will improve. These are normal problems with young players. Heck, the way the game has trended in recent years, even very good Major League players have these issues as well.
Through his age 20 season, Florial has played in the Sirius XM Futures Game, made it to Double-A Trenton, named a MiLB.com Organization All-Star, Baseball America All-Star, Most Outstanding Major League Prospect, South Atlantic League All-Star, and a post-season All-Star. That is quite the resume for someone who would be just entering professional baseball for the first time this season if he signed as a junior coming out of American college in June.
Fortunately for Yankee fans, I can personally say this organization is filled with an abundance of great baseball and analytics people. Through my personal experience, it is unusual for an organization to be on the same page about a player, as people have different eyes and philosophies. Everyone that I have talked to is enamored with Estevan Florial. That should tell you the type of exceptional talent and intangibles that this person has. To conclude, as Osborn said, “the sky is the limit for this kid, I think the industry knows that, we certainly know that.” The former will be proven with time, but the latter is spot on. Florial will be a Yankee for a long, long time.