Height: 6 – 1
Age: 18 (11/25/97)
Estevan Florial signed with the New York Yankees for $200,000 as an international free agent on 3/19/15. To many, $200,000 sounds like a pretty nice signing bonus, but for Florial, this is an incredibly discounted sum due to his unique background. Back in 2014, he was set to sign with the Yankees as a part of their Major League Baseball (MLB) international signing spree record. Due to false paperwork, MLB ended up terminating Florial’s contract and suspending him for one season. This made him ineligible to sign with a professional team until 2015.
Florial went by the name of Haniel d’Oleo all of his life, until the discovery of his false birth certificate. For 16 years, he literally did not have a true identity or proper documentation. After birth, his mother, a native of Haiti, left to raise Florial in the Dominican Republic as a single parent when Florial’s father left the family. When Estevan became of age to attend school, his mother accepted random paperwork that would allow him to enroll in classes and live a “normal” life. Following the ruling of his suspension by Major League Baseball, Florial’s mother returned to her native country in order to get his proper documentation.
Estevan began playing baseball at a very young age, as most young boys in the Dominican Republic do. He became so good that he earned a reputation as not only one of the best young prospects in his country, but the entire world. As one of the most sought after prospects in 2014, teams found themselves incited in a bidding war to secure his talents. The Yankees kept tabs on Florial throughout his suspension, as they stuck with him throughout the unfortunate process. The organization was so impressed with him, International Scouting Director Donny Rowland simply felt like they couldn’t afford to lose him to another team.
The biggest problem facing the Yankees was the fact that the organization incurred penalties from MLB for blowing past their allotted signing bonus pool after the historic 2014 spending spree. This penalty meant the Yankees were unable to sign any international free agent over $300,000. Fortunately, the organization’s loyalty was not lost upon Florial. During his suspension, he came to realize that money isn’t everything and having the opportunity to chase his dream of becoming a Major League Baseball player as a Yankee is what he truly wanted. In talking to the media about his suspension, Florial was quoted in an article written by the New York Post by saying “I used it as motivation to train harder, and now I am here… For me, when God does something, it is incredible, so I do not think I was ready to sign.”
After finally signing, Florial burst onto the scene in his first professional season, earning Co-Most Valuable Player honors in the Dominican Summer League. He played in 57 games and put up unbelievable numbers. Florial hit .313 with 11 doubles, 8 triples, and 7 home runs. He scored 51 runs himself and knocked in 53 more. Estevan also showed great plate discipline by walking a total of 30 times. Florial plays a premium position, center field, incredibly well making him a well-rounded prospect. He contains plus speed and arm strength which further adds to his allure. Florial is truly a feel good story and will be fun to watch develop over the next few seasons.