Yankees: Former No. 1 prospect’s time with the club could be coming to an end

New York Yankees, Estevan Florial
Feb 20, 2023; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Estevan Florial (90) works out during spring training practice at George M Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Former Yankees top prospect Estevan Florial was one of the guys fighting for the LF position, as well as a potential bench OF spot, and now he has it. The former top prospect has had his share of ups and downs with the Yankees, but it came down to the wire, and he ended up making the 26-man roster.

There’s still the possibility that he’ll be DFAd, and other teams will have the option to sign him once Bader comes back from the IL since he doesn’t have any minor-league options left. Florial’s time with the organization may be coming to an end in the next few weeks, but this is his last opportunity to prove he belongs.

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Estevan Florial’s career with the Yankees has been a roller coaster:

Flo hasn’t had the career that many expected him to, and injuries, as well as inconsistent playtime at the MLB level, certainly hasn’t helped his progression. He’s got all the tools to be a talented player, it just hasn’t panned out. His high tendency to swing & miss, and therefore strikeout, have led to dismal K rates that see him oftentimes used as a defensive replacement or pinch runner if anything. 

He continues to thrive and find success at AAA, but it hasn’t translated to the majors at this point in time. The 25-year-old was electric last season with Scranton, as he mashed 15 HR and showed off his elite speed, swiping 39 bags. He posted a .850 OPS in 101 games there, but when he was promoted and saw time due to injuries to the regulars, he didn’t take his opportunity and run with it. 

Florial posted a -7 wRC+ at the MLB level last year, with 35 PAs to his name. He struck out a resounding 37.1% of the time, which somehow made his 30.4% K Rate in AAA seem like he was incredibly disciplined. His speed still speaks for itself, and he mans a great CF thanks to his range and ability to cover ground. However, I think the clock may be running out for the former highly touted prospect. 

Florial beat out both Ortega and Calhoun for this spot:

The Yankees had a few guys jockeying for an outfield position, and with Hicks certainly being guaranteed one following a solid spring performance offensively, that then closed the door for another guy on the roster. Florial was chosen over the likes of Ortega and Willie Calhoun, and of the bunch, it’s pretty apparent that Florial had the least to offer. He has speed, but so does IKF, who will be utilized as a super-utility option this season. However, his ability to play CF better than the other two options did enough for him to jump the other guys that have seen some success at the major league level. 

Florial’s time with the Yankees has been anything but thrilling, and I do feel bad for him with everything that he’s had to deal with in his career. It hasn’t worked out for the once highly touted prospect with various shoulder, back, and leg injuries. There was once a time when the stars seemed to fall at his feet, but now, here we are, as he has one last chance. 

I had imagined that the Yanks would ride with Ortega of the bunch, as his spring had arguably been the group’s best. Though Calhoun was the better hitter, Ortega was the better defender. He had posted an OPS of .805 this spring, even though he fell off a cliff in terms of his average over the last week or so. Calhoun OPS’d .801 and continued to show off his ability to put barrel to ball. The only reason for him not nabbing it is because he is not a good defender by any means. That left Florial and his .548 OPS this month. 

It’s sad that baseball is as tough as it is, and the ride for Florial has been anything but kind to him. However, this is now the opportunity he’s been waiting for, and Ortega even requested a release from the organization because he had somehow lost this battle. I’m sure another organization will take a flier on him, as he still has a solid skillset that he showed off this month. As for Florial, this is his last true chance to show the Yanks’ FO that he can be a major leaguer, as up to this point, that has yet to come to fruition.

The Yankees also signed Orioles standout spring training performer Franchy Cordero on Wednesday afternoon, providing depth and a bit more momentum offensively.