Gleyber Torres has come a long way in just the two years that he’s been in the organization, and the Cubs’ top prospect is still just 19 years old. That should tell you something about the Venezuelan shortstop, and help explain why so many Cubs fans are excited about his future.
When he was 16, he signed with the Cubs for $1.7 million, which spoke to his status as one of the highest-ranked international prospects at that time. Since then he’s made it all the up to High-A, and become the top prospect ina vaunted system that’s recently sent a lot of talent up the big-league team. Last year, he put up a .287/.346/.376 slash line as an 18-year-old across two levels. He was the youngest player at both those levels, so maturity is a word that gets thrown a lot with Torres.
You usually see some differing opinions on a team’s top prospect, but I couldn’t find a single list that didn’t have him at No. 1 for the Cubs. That, too, should tell you something about this kid’s potential. No matter what happens with Torres in the future, what he’s done is already pretty incredible.
A lot has been written about Torres—and if you’re reading this you probably know a fair bit about him already. But let’s take a minute or two to see what he had to say when given the chance to speak in his native Spanish to his own country’s press.
On being atop so many top-prospect lists:
All these things that have come out fill me with pride. In these first three years of my career I’ve worked hard every day, have given it my all in each practice, in each game, and I think that these lists are a reward for everything I’ve accomplished, both on and off the field.
It motivates me to work even harder, to be better every day, to improve with every season so I can keep myself ready with the goal of debuting in the Major Leagues.
On a hand injury he suffered at the end of 2015 that hasn’t been widely reported or discussed stateside:
I couldn’t do anything for three months, that’s why I travelled to Arizona at the beginning of January to start a strength program with weights and agility drills to recover what I lost last year.
[Editorial aside: It’s interesting to note that this hasn’t been reported very much in the press. I asked around and, while people had heard of an injury, there wasn’t much color as to what caused it or how severe it was. His interviews to the Venezuelan press make it sound much more severe than anyone I spoke with originally thought.]
On playing in his native Venezuela:
I wanted my parents and relatives to watch me play in my own country. Despite the conversations between my agent and the Cubs, they decided it was best for me to rest and recover from my injury. I hope to have a good season this year and God willing I’ll finally be able to debut next season with the Tigers.
[Editorial aside: Tigers being a local Venezuelan team—don’t panic!]
When I get on the field I know what I have to do. I would make errors and mental mistakes and Jimmy Gonzalez (Single-A manager) was there or the coaches would help me and tell me what was best for me. They were always paying attention and helping me out, and that’s important because they’re the ones that know and day by day I’m learning things.
On his coaches that helped him learn to play shortstop:
My first team was the Aguiluchos and my first manager was Jose Rafael Carrasquel, who helped me a lot with learning to play shortstop, since I used to play centerfield. Then I went to Cumbres with Alexis Quiñones and he gave me everything I needed to play the position. I’ll always be thankful for those moments.
On training at an academy at age 13 and working with Ciro Barrios, who got him signed:
It wasn’t easy to leave school behind to devote myself full time to baseball. It was a risk, but there were very high hopes. I didn’t have any problems because since I was little my dream was to play baseball and my parents gave me plenty of confidence. I owe them everything for supporting me and believing in me.
[Editorial aside: Just want to step in and point out the magnitude of his decision: he decided to devote himself full time to baseball at age 13. I’m thrilled it’s worked out for him, but take a minute to think of all the kids in third-world countries that make this same decision and it doesn’t pan out for them… you go Gleyber!]
Jimmy Gonzalez, his manager in Single-A, on his maturity:
His performance and his attitude are very mature for his age. You really appreciate the effort he puts into everything. The way he goes about the game and the questions he asks speak to a guy that’s much more mature than his age.
And there it is: Gleyber Torres, Found in Translation.
Lead photo courtesy Allan Henry—USA Today Sports.