Last Updated on September 24, 2023 at 8:39 am by John Allen
The long wait for an MLB call by the Yankees generated a lot of frustration for Estevan Florial. But once he was in, the former top prospect opted to let his performance with the bat do the talking.
Estevan Florial displayed his dominance in Triple-A with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He boasted an impressive .945 OPS, which ranked him fourth in the International League, and he notched 28 home runs, securing him the sixth spot in that category. Additionally, Florial exhibited strong defensive skills in center field.
However, his frustration stemmed from witnessing his teammates and fellow outfielders, including Franchy Cordero, Jake Bauers, Billy McKinney, Willie Calhoun, and eventually Everson Pereira and Jasson Dominguez, receive call-ups to the major leagues ahead of him.
Estevan Florial persisted, demonstrating his abilities at the highest tier of minor-league baseball. Now, he’s striving to achieve a similar feat, albeit in an expedited manner, as the major league season draws to a close.
Estevan Florial is focused on his present
According to Estevan Florial, he understood that complaining wouldn’t resolve the situation or contribute to any improvement. The player emphasized that the most effective approach was to demonstrate the kind of player he was through his actions and performance on the field.
Estevan Florial received his call-up on September 11, following an elbow injury to Dominguez that necessitated Tommy John surgery. In this latest stint in the majors, he has displayed glimpses of his potential, although these moments have been brief, as he endeavors to make the necessary adjustments to major league pitching.
Once regarded as a highly promising prospect with a wealth of athletic tools, the 25-year-old has struggled to fully harness his abilities and maintain consistent hitting performance at the highest level. Prior to Friday’s game, Estevan Florial’s career major league statistics included a .191 batting average and a .582 OPS across his first 100 plate appearances. He has had limited opportunities in prior seasons, including in 2020, 2021, and 2022, where he couldn’t establish himself.
Nonetheless, on Friday, Estevan Florial was slotted as the Yankees’ leadoff hitter, indicating both the team’s desire to witness more of his plate appearances and his gradual improvement at the plate.
During Thursday’s game, Estevan Florial exhibited improvement by drawing an eight-pitch walk and driving in a run with a double against the left-handed pitcher Tim Mayza of Toronto. This marked his first career RBI against a left-handed pitcher. After his tenth game of the current major league season, his on-base percentage stood at .351.
Manager Aaron Boone made these comments before Estevan Florial’s 2-for-5 performance, which included an RBI, in the Yankees’ 7-1 victory against the Diamondbacks, noting that Estevan Florial had been effective at recognizing pitches during his time with the team. Boone mentioned that the player had been getting on base to some extent, which he found to be a positive development.
Ready to shine despite limited time
Estevan Florial has placed a strong emphasis on pitch recognition and making well-timed swings. His rise in Triple-A coincided with an uptick in his walk rate and a decrease in strikeouts, indicating better judgment of pitches within the strike zone. This improved ability to discern balls from strikes has translated to his major league performance, as Estevan Florial managed to draw five walks in his initial 37 plate appearances this season, marking a notable 13.5 percent improvement rate.
He explained that he has undergone significant changes, primarily in his approach rather than his actual swing, since his last opportunity in the major leagues, which occurred in September 2022. Estevan Florial acknowledged that there were several factors at play, and he mentioned that he had been in the process of learning and making adjustments to his approach throughout the year.
Improving his decision-making regarding when to swing has been instrumental in Estevan Florial’s ability to nearly double his home run output, going from 15 homers in 101 games with SWB last year to 28 in the same number of games this year. However, the challenge has always been in replicating this production at the major league level.
With just eight games remaining, Estevan Florial has a limited opportunity to demonstrate that he deserves a spot on the 40-man roster for the offseason. Furthermore, he aims to position himself as a potential contender for the center field position next season, which is currently up for grabs, especially with Dominguez anticipated to miss a significant portion of the year.
While the timeframe is short, he is determined to make the most of this opportunity.
Estevan Florial explained that he viewed each opportunity as a tryout and every time he stepped onto the field, he felt the need to demonstrate his abilities and what he was capable of to others.
Up to this point, Estevan Florial has demonstrated to the Yankees that he possesses strong defensive skills in the outfield, as well as a combination of power and speed. However, his propensity for strikeouts remains an area of concern. Nevertheless, there has been notable progress in his plate appearances, which is an encouraging step forward.
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