Ex-Yankees top prospect making strong case to earn roster spot in 2024

mlb: toronto blue jays at new york yankees, estevan florial
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Everyone appreciates an inspiring resurgence, and for the New York Yankees, Estevan Florial could very well be that story. Previously a highly-touted prospect, Florial experienced a lull in Triple-A this season. But with Jasson Dominguez sidelined due to a UCL injury, Florial received the call and a golden opportunity to demonstrate his potential.

This 25-year-old has stepped onto the MLB diamond for 40 games, 11 of which were this year, posting a .229 average, a .357 OBP, alongside six RBIs, a 23.8% strikeout rate, 11.9% walk rate, and 99 wRC+. Proving his mettle, he has offered both commendable defense and consistent offensive prowess, marking an evident improvement from his earlier stints.

Triple-A Triumphs & MLB Transition

Florial’s performance in Triple-A this year was nothing short of exemplary, boasting a .284 average, a .380 OBP, 28 team-leading homers, 79 RBIs, and 25 stolen bases. Yet, his persistently high strikeout rate was a red flag, and the Yankees’ management was wary of its potential spill-over into the majors.

Contrary to these apprehensions, Florial has displayed a 6% drop in strikeouts. Over a recent week that encompassed 17 at-bats, his stats sparkled with a .294 average, .368 OBP, .471 slugging rate, and .839 OPS. This highlights his invaluable contribution to the Yankees’ offense, particularly evident in a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

During the Friday showdown with Arizona, Florial shone in his five at-bats, producing two hits, one being an RBI double in the fifth. Prominently placed as the lead-off hitter, he’s reminding everyone why he was initially labeled a five-tool prospect. Florial’s game, packed with speed, athleticism, power, and defensive prowess, held great promise, yet he found himself confined to Triple-A for extended periods, being offered a mere 29 games to refine his skillset before this recent promotion.

Mapping Florial’s Future with the Yankees

Closing the 2023 chapter with such vigor could propel Florial into a central role during the spring training, aiding the void left by Dominguez. Though he may not be the first choice for a starter, Florial’s left-handed batting prowess could add much-needed variation to the Yankees’ lineup.

As Dominguez is slated to be absent for half of 2024, Florial emerges as an economical, homegrown solution. Of course, options like Kevin Kiermaier and the pricier Cody Bellinger are on the table. However, the likelihood of general manager Brian Cashman getting a nod for Bellinger seems slim, with the focus being on budget-friendly centerfield replacements until Dominguez fully recovers.

In line with cost-effective measures, placing faith in Florial, and letting him rectify any lingering imperfections, aligns seamlessly with the Yankees’ objectives. Having battled injuries and inconsistencies previously, Florial’s redemption narrative is steadily unfolding, and the subsequent week provides a platform for him to amplify his ongoing resurgence.

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