The New York Yankees are set to report to Spring Training next month, and all of Yankee universe was in a tizzy over Jasson Dominguez’s signing. While not expected to be “major league ready” until 2024 (which would make him a 21-year-old), people are heralding him as the next Mike Trout. Which makes this a crucial Spring Training for the Yankees another highly regarded outfield prospect. No, not Clint Frazier (although he needs to RAKE this spring if he wants his 4th outfielder spot back from Mike Tauchman). I’m talking about Estevan Florial.
Florial Still Shows Promise
Consistently regarded as a 5 tool player, Florial’s statistics show that he’s a more than capable ballplayer. It’s hard to take seriously the reports about Dominguez’s prowess because a highlight reel of him bashing dingers is just that. A highlight reel meant to make him look good.
Meanwhile, Florial’s track record indicates he is inching his way closer to cracking AA, and even AAA. Depending on his performance this spring, it could mean he finally plays above advanced A ball for the first time in his career, a step in the right direction for a team with fragility in all three outfield positions on the major league level.
But Florial is Also Injury Prone
Part of what has hindered Florial’s development in the minors is he’s just as injury prone as Hicks, Judge, and Stanton. In 5 seasons of minor league play, he’s played in less than 400 games, his highest total coming in 2017. Now, yes, he was shot in a mugging attempt in his home country, which isn’t his fault. But in 2018, he missed time due to surgery, and last season suffered a wrist fracture during Spring Training, sidelining him till June.
With the center field being his strongest position, and Hicks being almost as fragile as Jacoby was, there is a path for Florial by the end of this year, beginning of 2021 to make it to the bigs. But his defense is truly only a marginal improvement over Frazier’s. I do believe Frazier (like Andujar) can make a radical enough improvement to his defense to make them both Gold Glove caliber players either this OR next season. But if you can’t stay healthy, you don’t get to play, because someone else has your job. And if Florial can’t get out of spring healthy, he may never get a chance to get past Tampa.
He’s feeling the pressure right now. I just hope it doesn’t force him to blow it once the exhibition games start this spring.