TRENTON – Yankees top-prospect Gleyber Torres was benched by Trenton Thunder Manager Bobby Mitchell last Wednesday night during the teams 7-6 victory over New Hampshire. Reports indicated that Mitchell had pulled Torres in the bottom of the seventh inning after the organizations crown jewel had not given maximum hustle out of the batters box on a double that he hit in the top half of the frame.
“He didn’t do it on purpose and it was kind of a weird situation with the wind blowing and him thinking it was a foul ball, but when you think about, if he would have done that in the big leagues it would have been a bigger deal,” said Mitchell. “You got to nip it in the bud right away. It’s not only for him, but for the rest of the players on the team, we have to make sure we play the Yankee way.”
Mitchell explained that Torres had initially thought that the ball he hit was going to blow foul. The ball instead dropped in fair territory and Torres was still able to salvage a double out of the play.
“I know that he didn’t do it on purpose,” said Mitchell. “It broke my heart to take him out; he was hurt. But, in the long run it is going to help him. I told him that I had Mike Trout in Double-A and if he had done the same thing I would have pulled him out. It is just the way the organization feels about the way that you play the game. I think that it is huge to get it done now so that it doesn’t happen somewhere else.”
Torres accepted his benching with grace and was right back in the lineup the next day and homered. Three days later, Torres earned himself a promotion to Triple-A after just 32 games of seasoning at the Double-A level.
The Yankees organization has never been shy about discipling their young players, whether it be for fundamental lapses on the field or issues beyond the diamond. General Manager Brian Cashman believes that a players behavioral patterns stem from what they learn in the minor leagues and he has placed the utmost confidence in staff members like Mitchell to discipline a player if it will help him grow as an individual.
At a recent interactive fan event hosted by the Staten Island Yankees, Cashman cited previous disciplinary action to Gary Sanchez and Jorge Mateo in order to assist in their development. Holding a player accountable for their actions while they are young will go a long way in assuring that they don’t try to push the envelope when they reach the major leagues.
“When he [Gary] was at Double-A he had done some things out of frustration; you’ve got to remember the age of some of these individuals when they’re coming through, in many cases they’re teenagers, 20-years old, 21-years old, in the spotlight. They are being written about, talked about, blogged about. You sit him down and suspend him; I think he was late for a game, he was frustrated not running some balls out because he didn’t hit the way that he wanted to. The difference makers in his career would have been guys Julio [Mosquera] and his manager back then, turning to him and saying that this is not acceptable and what you are doing is out of line.”
Cashman added, “If they don’t do that down there, we have no chance to control it if and when it shows up in the big leagues.”
While nobody has ever questioned the drive and work ethic of Torres, Mitchell saw his slip-up in judgement as an ideal teachable moment that could very well help him later on. Much like Mosquera and Tony Franklin helped Sanchez grow from his mistakes three years ago.
“It’s the little things in baseball that win ballgames and championships,” Mitchell said. “He [Gleyber] has a ton of talent; in this situation he actually got a double, and could have got a triple. If I was the other manager and I saw a player on their team do that and then nothing was done about it, I would look at the opposition like ‘what are we doing?’ Are we just going to let things go? Are we letting things go for him?”
Based on his aggressive promotion, Torres may very well be on the fast track to the Bronx. While he already checks off all of the boxes in terms of talent and skill, it will be the small, detail oriented, effort-based things that will make Torres a major league sooner rather than later.