Patrick Teale

Luis Torrens might not be his pre-surgery self yet but he's getting closer.

STATEN ISLAND, NY -- After missing an entire season due to shoulder surgery on his labrum, Luis Torrens is back playing again and ready to demonstrate his skills behind the plate, and doing so in familiar surroundings back in Staten Island.

The Yankees signed Torrens, a Venezuelan native, as their top International free agent back in 2012, and his games was advanced enough that he played 48 games for one the Yankees’ Gulf Coast League (GCL) teams a year later in his debut season.  The following year he spent time bouncing around the minors, from Charleston to Staten Island and even the Gulf Coast League Yankees again. 

Despite the constant transition from one team to the next over that span, he settled down a bit over that period in Staten Island, again playing 48 games for the SI Yankees in 2014 and hitting a solid .270 while accruing a .732 OPS. 

However, at the end of the season, he hurt his shoulder, forcing him to have surgery to repair it, which in turn would hold him out of the entire 2015 season.  While the time off has been very tedious to sit through and hard to endure, he is excited to be back and playing for the Staten Island Yankees again here in 2016. 

“I [am familiar with] the league already," Torrens said through the help of a translator, "so I can focus on getting healthy [now], to [work my way up] to another level."

Even though he didn’t break camp this year with a long-season league team this year, a goal of his entering the season and one that was not obtainable given the slower recuperation with his surgically repaired shoulder, he is just happy to be playing again. 

“It’s a little tough being [brought down from Charleston to Staten Island], but after that, I know that I can go to any league or level," he said.  "After a long time [off], you just want to play no matter what.”

And, as this 2016 season has only just begun, Torrens came ready to do just that.  Through six games so far, he is hitting a robust .308.  Not only do his small sample-size stats speak well for themselves but the coaching staff also likes his early approach.

“He’s been working hard, he has some things to work on and clean up, but he’s able to make mid at-bat adjustments well," hitting coach Eric Duncan pointed out.  "He’s moving in the right direction."

Being out of action for an entire season is crucial and for one of the top Yankees prospects that is going to mean having as many at-bats as possible to catch him up on the year he just missed due to his shoulder injury.

Duncan acknowledges that Torrens needs to work on several elements of his offensive game but also to make up for missed plate appearances he didn’t accumulate last season.

“He needs at-bats…he needs consistency and to continue getting better, to see pitches," Duncan added.  "He’s [in the same boat] as all these guys; he has a lot of untapped potential, and needs to keep working hard before the game and during the game to [find it]."

Manager Dave Bialas sees Torrens’ recovery process going very much the same way.  Perhaps more than most players Bialas recognizes the polish he brings to both sides of the ball and for now would rather Torrens just focus on staying healthy and gaining experience.

“I think he just needs playing time, both defensively and offensively, but I think he’s stepped right in there and he’s been swinging the bat well, he just needs some more playing time, [which he can get] when we go out and play back-to-back days," Bialas said.
As Torrens continues to readjust during his time here in Staten Island, his shoulder is almost completely back to normal health. 

“It’s just a little bit sore, but it’s nothing big," Torrens said.  Regarding strength, “[It’s] almost [there], it’s right next to being 100 percent.”

While in Staten Island, he is focused on finding the right timing of pitches and also on keeping his body strong and ready to play on an everyday basis. 

“Mentally, I feel like I am more strong because [the team’s] staff has to stay on top of [me] very professionally.  But physically, [I’m not completely the same].  Close, but not yet; I don’t feel [totally] like I did before I got hurt," he admitted.

Still trying to fully regain his pre-surgery strength and nearly there at this point, Torrens, who admits to also needing a bit more endurance, continues to showcase the skills that have made him one of the consensus top young prospects in the farm system.  Although the Staten Island season is only 13 games in so far, both Duncan and Bialas like what they are seeing in Torrens’ approach offensively and defensively. 

With Torrens’ offensive technique, Duncan discusses adjustments being a major factor. 

“I like the fact that he’s shown the ability to make mid at-bat adjustments so far; that’s a very good quality to have, that allows guys to, [within an at-bat], be able to make an adjustment that can get them into a good spot, and have success.”

Additionally, Bialas finds Torrens’ bat speed, plate discipline, and ability to use the whole field [while having some power] to be some of his more developed skills.  On the defensive side, he has been performing well too.  In Wednesday’s (6/29) against the Hudson Valley Renegades, Bialas thought very highly of Torrens’ performance. 

“He blocked some balls tonight, did a heck of a job blocking and calling a game.  He called a good game, he called a shutout; he looks good defensively,” Bialas concluded. 

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