Yankees ex-top prospect may have a second chance at life

mlb: game one-new york yankees at boston red sox, estevan florial
Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

As the New York Yankees find themselves virtually out of postseason contention, the focus shifts to evaluating their talent pool for the upcoming 2024 season. With merely two weeks left in the regular season, the Yankees are using this time to gather valuable data on several young prospects who may play key roles next year, either as starters or utility players to fill specific gaps.

Yankees Youth Versus Experience

Choosing to invest in young talent over inconsistent veterans is often a strategic move. Take Franchy Cordero, for instance. Although he showcased formidable skills in Triple-A, his performance in the majors has been lackluster at best. The 29-year-old mustered just a .188 batting average and a .211 OBP across 24 games, raising questions about why 25-year-old former top prospect Estevan Florial hadn’t been given a chance earlier. Florial was shining in Scranton and clearly had more upside potential.

Florial’s Late Season Call-Up and Impact

Florial remained an afterthought until the unfortunate, season-ending injury to Jasson Dominguez necessitated his promotion to the majors. Since his September 12 call-up, Florial has displayed some promising indicators, such as a .357 OBP. While his current season stats, including a .182 batting average and 75 wRC+, may not appear spectacular, it’s essential to remember that this is based on just a seven-game sample size.

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Keeping the Spotlight on Florial: A Glimmer of Optimism

Florial has been with the Yankees for only 36 MLB games, accumulating less than 100 plate appearances. In this context, he deserves a fair dose of optimism, especially considering how long of a leash the Yankees gave to an underperforming Josh Donaldson. Should Florial continue to make an impact, he could find himself in a competitive position during next year’s spring training. His recent performance against Pittsburgh, which included a hit and two RBIs, adds to the growing list of reasons to be hopeful about his future.

Defensive Capabilities: Still a Work in Progress

Defensively, Florial has only clocked 54 innings in the outfield, making it too soon to pass any definitive judgments. However, his speed and defensive skills already hint at his potential to become an asset for the Yankees, rather than an eternal Triple-A player.

Anticipating Dominguez’s Return: Florial as a Temporary Fill-In

As the Yankees await Jasson Dominguez’s return, expected sometime during the 2024 season, Florial could serve as a valuable stopgap, especially if the Yankees choose not to invest heavily in a new outfielder. Dominguez’s recovery is anticipated to take 9-10 months, although, for position players, a return in around six months is not out of the question.

Jury Still Out: The Next Two Weeks Are Crucial

The coming fortnight will provide the Yankees with a larger sample size to better assess Florial’s capabilities and future potential. While it’s too soon to pass a verdict, the initial signs point toward a player worth watching.