Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Meet the 2019 Yankees: Gleyber Torres

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s Gleyber Day! He’s the Gleyber of the month! Ok, on a serious note though, how important is Gleyber Torres going to be for the New York Yankees here in 2019? Name a position and Gleyber could probably play it in a pinch. Troy Tulowitzki goes down? Slide Gleyber in at shortstop and let DJ LeMahieu play second base. DJ goes down? Gleyber back to second. Andujar goes down or need a day off? Like a good neighbor, Gleyber is there. Hell, I bet Torres could even play first base if he had to, the kid is just that talented. Let’s meet possibly the most important and integral part of the Yankees infield this season, Mr. Gleyber Torres.

Gleyber Torres, 22-years old, is a right-handed infielder for the New York Yankees with experience at second base, shortstop, and the third base positions. Gleyber loves to wait on a fastball and drive it out of the ballpark, but he can also handle his own on breaking pitches as we saw throughout the 2018 campaign with the Yankees. Standing 6’1” and weighing in at 200 lbs. this young man is the future of the New York Yankees infield and is under team control through the 2024 season.

Gleyber David Torres Castro was born on December 13, 1996 in Caracas, Venezuela to parents Eusebio Torres and Ibelise Castro. His parents were said to be intrigued by the name “Qleyber” and decided to name their son Gleyber because of its uniqueness. Torres started playing baseball at the age of four as a center fielder, catcher, pitcher, and eventually as a shortstop. Gleyber grew up watching games on television and idolized players like Omar Vizquel. By the age of 14, Gleyber had caught the eye of many MLB scouts including the Chicago Cubs who ultimately decided to sign Torres as an International free agent in 2013 for a $1.7 million signing bonus.

Torres made his professional debut in 2014 with the Arizona Cubs before working his way up to Class A-Advanced ball in 2016, just in time for the Cubs to trade Gleyber to the New York Yankees along with Adam Warren, Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford for closer Aroldis Chapman. Torres was immediately assigned to the Tampa Yankees and was also assigned to the Arizona Fall League following the season. Torres won the AFL MVP Award in 2016, becoming the youngest player to do so, and quickly became the top-rated Yankees prospect heading into the 2017 season and the fifth best prospect overall according to Baseball America. Torres was invited to spring training camp in 2017 but was ultimately assigned to Double-A to begin the season.

Torres was promoted to Triple-A in May of 2017, but a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his non-throwing left elbow ended his season on June 19. Gleyber underwent Tommy John surgery and finished the 2017 season batting .287/.383/.480 with seven home runs and 34 RBI for the Trenton Thunder and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders combined. Gleyber was invited back to Yankees spring training camp in 2018 but was ultimately assigned to Triple-A to begin the year. Gleyber stayed n the minor leagues until April 22 when the Yankees called him up to make his MLB debut against the Toronto Blue Jays. Gleyber went 0-4 in the contest, but he collected his first hit the next night against the Minnesota Twins. Torres was selected to the All-Star Game as an American League reserve in his rookie season, but he did not play in the game. Gleyber also hit the Yankees 265th home run as a team in 2018, breaking the 1997 Seattle Mariners all-time record for most home runs as a team in a single season. That home run also marked the 20th home run out of the 9th spot in the batting order, thus making the Yankees the first team in history to have at least 20 home runs from every spot in the batting order.

Gleyber finished the season in the American League Division Series, falling to the Boston Red Sox. Gleyber had an amazing rookie campaign with the Yankees and finished 3rd overall in the AL Rookie of the Year Award voting. Gleyber will look to be even better here in 2019 and will look to lead the Yankees even further into the postseason. Good luck to you, Gleyber, and much respect and love.

Meet the 2019 Yankees: Greg Bird

If Luke Voit is the incumbent, the Goliath, then you have to think that Greg Bird is David, right? I mean, aside from a big home run or two in the 2017 postseason, Greg Bird and his health have left much to be desired. Bird essentially lost his starting job at first base last season to Voit and is in camp looking to win it back. Can he do it? Only time will tell, but while we wait for it all unfold this spring let’s get reacquainted with the Birdman of New York.

Greg Bird, 26-years old, is a left-handed batting and right-handed throwing first baseman that was originally drafted as a catcher by the New York Yankees. Bird does not swing and miss as much as some, the lefty has right around a 33% swing and miss rate, but he will never be a .300 hitter at the MLB level either. Bird has an uppercut swing that could take advantage of the short porch inside Yankee Stadium if he is ever healthy enough to play a full, productive season.

Gregory Paul Bird was born on November 9, 1992 in Memphis TN. His family eventually moved him to Aurora, Colorado where the lefty swinging Bird attended Grandview High School. While at the school, Bird was a catcher and the battery mate of MLB pitcher Kevin Gausman. Bird was named the Colorado Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year as a senior and committed to attending the University of Arkansas to play college baseball. The Yankees drafted Bird in the fifth round of the 2011 MLB First Year Players Draft, hoping a $1.1 million signing bonus would convince him to bypass his commitment to Arkansas. Bird eventually signed with the Yankees and was immediately moved to first base.

Bird played four games after signing in 2011 and another 28 games in 2012, this time due to injury. Bird had a breakout season in 2013 and even won the Kevin Lawn Award as the Yankees Minor League Player of the Year. Bird reached as high as Double-A in 2014 before heading to the Arizona Fall League after the season, including a trip to the AFL Fall Stars Game. With an AFL MVP Award in his hands he headed back to Double-A, and eventually to Triple-A, for the 2015 season before the New York Yankees big league club came calling on August 13. Bird made his MLB debut that same night and ended the game 0-5. Bird became the Yankees everyday starter after Teixeira suffered a shin fracture on a hit-by-pitch that ended his season.

Bird suffered a right shoulder injury during the offseason before the 2016 season and was never quite right, even after a successful surgery to repair a torn labrum. Bird missed the entire 2016 season before heading down to the AFL once again to get some work in before the 2017 season. Bird made it through spring training healthy in 2017, we thought anyway, but an ankle injury that he sustained in the spring landed him on the disabled list on May 2nd, thus hampering what looked to be a strong season for the Yankees first baseman. Bird was later diagnosed with an injury to the os trigonum in his right foot and would need to have surgery to remove the bone. After missing 103 games, Bird returned to the lineup just in time for the 2017 postseason. Bird would come back and hit an integral home run off Cleveland Indians pitcher Andrew Miller in Game 3 of the ALDS, keeping the Yankees season alive. Bird served as the Yankees final out in Game 7 of the ALCS, ending the Yankees season just one game shy of the World Series.

Bird underwent ankle surgery in March of 2018 and returned off the disabled list on May 26, but he never seemed to fully have his legs under him the rest of that season. Bird struggled once again and saw him playing time diminish after the Yankees acquired Luke Voit in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals. Now, Bird will have to fight for his job back this spring and either win the job outright, or presumably head back down to Triple-A to begin the 2019 campaign. Nobody wants that, so let’s put in some work. Good luck, Greg. I am personally rooting for you and counting on you because I know a healthy Greg Bird not only makes the offense better in 2019, but it makes the defense significantly better as well. Get it done!

Meet the 2019 Yankees: Luke Voit

Photo credit: Elite Sports NY

One of the few spring training competitions this spring will be at the first base position for the New York Yankees. Greg Bird was the incumbent until Brian Cashman picked up basically, at the time, a career minor league player in Luke Voit from the St. Louis Cardinals. Voit immediately took the league, and the Yankees fans in the Bronx, by storm with his on-the-field play and energy, as well as with his off-the-field intense workout videos. Now Voit is back in 2019 looking to not be the next Shane Spencer or Chad Curtis, so let’s check in with him. Luke Voit, ladies and gentlemen.

Luke Voit, 28-years old, is a right-handed batting and throwing first baseman in the New York Yankees organization. Luke, standing 6’3” and weighing in at a solid 225 lbs., is an aggressive fastball hitter that is prone to swing and miss a lot, but when he makes contact the ball tends to go the other way towards the short porch in right field inside Yankee Stadium. Voit has shown patience on breaking pitches and offspeed pitches, but throughout his career he has been prone to the strikeout and prolonged slumps.

Louis Linwood Voit III was born on February 13, 1991 in Wildwood, Missouri where he attended Lafayette High School. Voit was drafted out of high school by the Kansas City Royals in the 32nd round of the 2009 MLB First Year Players Draft but did not sign and instead opted to attended Missouri State University. While at the school, Voit played for the Missouri State Bears where he caught the eye of the St. Louis Cardinals, who drafted the senior in the 22nd round of the 2013 MLB Draft. Voit, drafted as a catcher, immediately began his professional career within the Cardinals system before being ultimately moved to first base during the 2014 season.

Voit remained in the Cardinals system until June 25, 2017 when St. Louis called him up to the Major Leagues after hitting .322 with 12 home runs and 48 RBI with the Memphis Redbirds. Voit totaled 114 at-bats for the Cardinals in 2017, bouncing back and forth between Triple-A and the majors, posting a .246 average with four home runs and 18 RBI. Voit was back in the minors for much of the 2018 season before the New York Yankees came calling on July 27, acquiring Voit along with bonus pool money for LHP Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos. Voit was initially assigned to Triple-A Scranton before being promoted to the Bronx on August 2. Voit went back down to Triple-A on August 13 but was called back up to stay on August 21 after Didi Gregorious was added to the 10-day disabled list.

After his call-up, Voit essentially stole the first base job from incumbent Greg Bird by batting .333 with 14 home runs, 33 RBI and by posting a 1.095 OPS in 39 games down the stretch for New York. Voit was the Yankees starting first baseman in the 2018 American League Wild Card Game as well as their ALDS trip against the Boston Red Sox and will head into the spring of 2019 hoping to keep his stranglehold on the position. Good luck to you Luke. I have to admit, I have been down on you more than most this offseason, so prove me wrong. Much love.

TGP Trivia and Fact of the Day for February 19th, 2019

Good morning Yankees family!!

Did you know that it took about 45,000 cubic yards of concrete, 11,800 tons of structural steel and 15,000 gallons of paint, among other materials, to build the current Yankee Stadium in the Bronx that opened up in 2009? I didn't either, well not until today.

Have a great day everyone, especially to you my wife. I love you.