Yankees former No. 1 prospect returns with a vengeance

yankees, estevan florial
Mar 10, 2023; Lakeland, Florida, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Estevan Florial (90) bats during the fourth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have struggled to find Estevan Florial a place on the 26-man roster at the MLB level. Over a small sample size, the former top prospect in the team’s farm system has struggled to get things going, seeing his strikeout and chase rate issues become more prominent at the next level.

At first glance, his 2022 Triple-A numbers are fantastic, having hit .283 with a .368 OBP, 15 homers, 46 RBIs, and stealing 39 bases. However, the critical number to harp on is his 30.4% strikeout rate, which continuously balloons when facing off against big league talent. Over 17 games in the MLB last year, Florial struck out at a 37.1% clip, enough to justify his offensive metrics wouldn’t translate.

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The Yankees gave Estevan Florial a prime chance to win a job:

The Bombers gave him a fair shot at winning an outfield job during spring training, but he struggled considerably, hitting .167 with a .286 OBP, recording one homer and eight RBIs across 22 games. His inability to get on base and hit for average stood out, leading the Yankees to designate him for assignment.

To everyone’s surprise, Florial cleared waivers without landing on a new team, sending him back to Scranton with the Yankees Triple-A affiliate. Clearly, the young man is angered by the entire scenario since, in his first game back, he smashed two homers with four RBIs and walked once across four plate appearances.

Estevan has been a tremendous talent at lower levels but simply can’t translate to the MLB, whether that be confidence related or a lack of experience. Nonetheless, seeing him bounce back in his first game and show the value the Yankees have been hyper-focused on for years was nice.

At 25 years old, Florial is still young enough to make an impact in the bigs, and if the Yankees sustain any major injuries in the outfield, he will undoubtedly be a first-choice call-up.

For the time being, Florial needs to continue working on his swing decisions and plate discipline, taking more pitches and seeing the ball efficiently. If he can lower his strikeout rate, there may be a place for him in the majors after all.