Name: Ronald Torreyes
Position: Second base
Notable 2011 Stats: .356/.398/.457 with 9 2B, 5 3B, 3 HR, 19/14 K/BB, and 12-for-19 SB in 67 games with Dayton (A)
Why He’s This High: On last year’s list, I made the mistake of putting a number of short-season players in the back quarter, selecting them for the list mainly due to some crazy statistics. Few of them went on to distinguish themselves when moving up the ladder this season, and with a more rigorous compilation process, I’m not repeating that mistake.
Still, though, a couple of those players managed to maintain their momentum, and one of them was Ronald Torreyes. Torreyes hit .370/.434/.564 as a 17-year-old in 2010, but much of that was compiled in the Venezuelan Summer League, where he hit .390/.468/.606. Certainly, that was interesting, especially when he continued to excel in the Arizona Summer League (.349/.379/.494 in 18 games), but including him on last year’s list was definitely premature.
Now, though? At age 18, Torreyes continued to hit for an absurd average in the Midwest League, and it’s clear at this point that it’s no fluke. He struck out just 19 times in 67 games–just 6.2% of his at-bats. For comparison, the only player in the big leagues to have a lower strikeout rate this season was Juan Pierre.
After shuttling all over the diamond defensively in his pro debut, Torreyes settled in at second base this season and made just three errors all year. The consensus is that he’ll remain a plus defender at the position as he moves up.
While he’s not big, Torreyes has showed enough strength that he doesn’t have the bat knocked out of his hands; he posted a .101 ISO this year and obviously had higher power numbers the year before.
Why He’s This Low: It is a lack of size that invites worry about how much better Torreyes is going to get. He’s listed at 5’9″ and 140 lbs., but is probably closer to 5’7″-5’8″, and clearly isn’t physically imposing in the least.
Torreyes’ exceptional contact skills mean he doesn’t walk much, so he’ll always be subject to fluctuations in his BABIP that could crater his value in any one season. He’ll need to maintain as much speed as possible to continue beating out hits enough to post solid OBPs without walking.
Speaking of his speed, Torreyes has never been a high-percentage basestealer and doesn’t project to be much of a threat in that facet of the game. In many ways, he’s similar to Jose Altuve–a player who makes a ton of contact and has more power than you’d think, but brings little else to the table offensively.
Conclusions: Torreyes’ ability to make contact is truly special, and what makes it even more incredible is how young he was for the Midwest League when he posted that great statline. He adds to his value with excellent defense at second base, and projects to be at least a Jeff Keppinger-type player.
However, Torreyes does remain far from Cincinnati, and there are questions about how much room he has to improve–he has little power value to gain and little baserunning value to lose. He’ll need to keep projecting as a .300 hitter to be better than Keppinger and evolve into a well-above-average starter. I think it’s quite possible, but we’re still a couple of years away from being able to hone in on what sort of major leaguer Torreyes will be. He should blow through the Cal League–which rewards guys who put the ball in play–rather quickly; Double-A will be a big test for this interesting prospect. At his age, though, Torreyes will have all sorts of time to adapt to upper-level pitching.
Previous installments in the Seedlings To Stars 2012 Top 100 Prospects:
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