Estevan Florial can offer a potential boost to Yankees’ sagging offense

Estevan Florial of the New York Yankees
Matthew Maybloom
Saturday July 29, 2023

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On Friday, the Yankees’ experienced offense fell flat to a rookie Baltimore starter. This is time for the team to stop ignoring and call up Estevan Florial, who is on fire in the Triple-A.

Estevan Florial has been performing exceptionally well at the AAA level this season, boasting a .301 batting average, a .395 on-base percentage, 22 home runs, 57 RBIs, 18 stolen bases, a 29% strikeout rate, a 14% walk rate, and a 136 wRC+ in 76 games.

Even though Estevan Florial has performed impressively in AAA, he has only played 30 games in the MLB, which has led some to view him as an “AAAA” player. However, considering the Yankees’ current situation, it might be worthwhile to give Estevan Florial another opportunity to prove himself at the major league level.

Estevan Florial vs. Yankees other Triple-A callups

The Yankees’ current Triple-A call-up brigade comprises Billy McKinney and Jake Bauers. Though they have performed somehow better than the slumping veterans, their current performances don’t really give much assurance or confidence.

McKinney has a batting average of .244 and an on-base percentage (OBP) of .327. However, his performance hasn’t been ideal. Despite having 102 weighted runs created plus (wRC+) and saving a few defensive runs, his below-average career form is a cause for concern. Bauers’ batting average of .224 and on-base percentage (OBP) of .311 doesn’t make him a compelling choice either.

Even Estevan Florial has a better record as of today compared to Kiner-Falefa, who has a batting average is .256, and an on-base percentage (OBP) is .317. In the outfield, he has a fielding percentage of .984. Yet, there are some concerns as he has a defensive runs score of -6 and a -1 out above average across 142.1 innings played.


How Estevan Florial can boost the Yankees’ offense

The Yankees could improve by bringing in young talents, such as Estevan Florial. Even though he is not currently on the 40-man roster, the Yankees could consider removing a less promising player to create space for him. This move could have several advantages, including the opportunity for Estevan Florial to showcase his skills and increase his trade value before the deadline. Ultimately, it might give the Yankees more flexibility in potential future deals.

Once considered one of baseball’s top prospects, his career took a downturn when the Yankees designated him for assignment after Opening Day. Things got even tougher when no team claimed him on waivers, allowing the Yankees to outright him back to Triple-A. Estevan Florial has been playing at that level since 2021.

As of Tuesday, Estevan Florial’s comeback story seemed to be gaining momentum. He had hit 21 homers, tying him for the second-most in the International League. His batting average was.291, and his OPS (On-Base Plus Slugging) of.973 ranked 10th in the league. One crucial factor for Estevan Florial as he aims to secure a full-time spot in the major leagues was his strikeout percentage, which stood at 29 percent. While still relatively high, it was an improvement from the 30.4 percent he had in 2022 and the 30.9 percent in 2021. It’s important to note that he is only 25 years old.

According to Scranton manager Shelley Duncan, Estevan Florial has had an impressive and outstanding season. Duncan mentioned that he sees continuous improvement in Florial’s performance.

Estevan Florial has achieved a lot, but the Yankees have consistently chosen not to call him up whenever they needed outfield help, especially in left field, where the performance has been disappointing. When asked about the difficulty of witnessing missed opportunities, he mentioned that it had been challenging at times.

However, he also mentioned that he recognizes that such decisions are beyond his control. Estevan Florial mentioned that he knows he can’t control that and stated that the only thing he can try to do is try to be better and improve.

At this point, it’s reasonable to ponder what Estevan Florial needs to do in order to receive an extended opportunity with the Yankees. Until Tuesday, the Yankees had utilized nine different players in left field, none of whom were Estevan Florial.

Throughout Aaron Judge’s absence, which began on June 4 after tearing a ligament in his right big toe at Dodger Stadium, the Yankees endured a significant offensive struggle. Their performance at the plate reached disheartening lows, as they posted the lowest batting average in the Majors, standing at a mere .220. Additionally, their OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) ranked fourth-lowest at .670, and they managed to score an average of just 3.9 runs per game, marking the third-lowest in the league. The absence of their star player had a profound impact on the team’s offensive production, leaving them in a challenging position to fill the void and overcome these daunting statistics.

Challenges in the call-up

One of the challenges in considering Estevan Florial’s call-up is that he is currently not listed on the 40-man roster and has exhausted his minor-league options. As a result, the Yankees would need to make roster adjustments by either placing someone on the 60-day injured list or releasing a player to create space for him. The team seems to favor outfielders Jake Bauers or Billy McKinney, who are already on the 40-man roster but also lack minor-league options. Additionally, if the Yankees decide to promote Estevan Florial to the major leagues, they won’t have the flexibility to easily send him back to the minors whenever they choose. Instead, they would have to designate him for assignment (DFA), which would again subject him to waivers and potentially expose them to the risk of losing him to another team without gaining anything in return. This is a move they might be hesitant to consider more than once.

On July 7, manager Aaron Boone mentioned that Estevan Florial’s roster complications were a contributing factor when questioned about the team’s decision to call up Franchy Cordero instead of Estevan Florial when Jake Bauers suffered a left rotator cuff bruise and was placed on the injured list.

Boone praised Estevan Florial for his impressive performance in the minors, stating that he has been having a strong season and consistently puts himself into consideration whenever the team faces a need for reinforcements. However, the Yankees’ focus on the potential loss of Estevan Florial instead of utilizing his capabilities to assist the big-league team seems rather intriguing.

Duncan mentioned that they hadn’t initially considered the level of power Estevan Florial would display, given that his previous career-high in homers was 17. However, they now realize that Florial has the potential to be a significant RBI power hitter, even from the leadoff spot, where he has already hit several leadoff homers. Each time he steps up to bat, he poses a serious threat to the opposing team.

Hitting coach Trevor Amicone attributed Estevan Florial’s success to his strong work ethic and the team’s focus on reducing his swings and misses on pitches within the strike zone.

Amicone explained that Estevan Florial achieved an improved bat path, enabling him to reduce swing-and-miss at fastballs and generate more power on the ones he connected with. He did this by extending his bat through the hitting zone earlier while retaining the ability to react late and still make solid contact. According to Amicone, the team’s emphasis this year has been on elevating their game planning to a higher level.

Estevan Florial’s production has remained consistent throughout the season. He recorded a.905 OPS in April, followed by a.187 OPS in May, an.820 OPS in June, and a.919 OPS in July.

Duncan commented that Estevan Florial seemed to be on a mission. The mission intensified when Boone informed Florial in his office at Yankee Stadium that he had been designated for assignment on April 1. Subsequently, the Dominican Republic native flew back home to Tampa, where he received encouragement from his father and wife and engaged in workouts to keep himself occupied.

Estevan Florial mentioned that it had been a difficult moment for him, expressing that, as a player, one never wishes to receive such news.

Before the 2018 season, Estevan Florial was ranked as Baseball America’s 38th overall prospect. However, during the 2018 and 2019 seasons, he faced setbacks due to right wrist injuries, causing him to miss significant playing time. In 2020, he only played in one MLB game during his debut and spent most of the year at the team’s alternate training site. Despite being a highly regarded young player, he only participated in 28 MLB games in 2021 and 2022.

After going through waivers and returning to the Yankees, Estevan Florial became motivated and determined to prove himself. Amicone mentioned that when he arrived, the prospect carried a chip on his shoulder and had a strong desire to improve in any way possible.

Duncan stated that when faced with the situation of being unwanted, Estevan Florial didn’t feel discouraged but instead used it as motivation to keep pushing forward.

He mentioned that he knows the kind of player he is and what he can achieve given the opportunity. However, Estevan Florial acknowledged that there are certain things beyond his control. Whatever the outcome, he emphasized the need to move on from it.

It’s uncertain if Estevan Florial will get a chance to play for the Yankees this season or if they might consider trading him before the August 1 deadline. Regardless of what happens, Florial stated that he will continue working hard. He knows that the journey isn’t over yet.

He stated that no matter how well someone performs in Triple-A, it doesn’t provide complete satisfaction. Estevan Florial expressed the desire to prove himself and contribute to the ball club when given the opportunity to play in the majors.

As Greg Allen and Jake Bauers are providing only sub-par support, the Yankees might consider exploring their prospect pool. Giving opportunities to Estevan Florial could be an intriguing option for the team.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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