Why is the Yankees’ decision on Estevan Florial shocking?

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Just when it seemed like Estevan Florial‘s time in the Bronx was coming to an end, the Yankees brought back their former top prospect. Last weekend, the team designated him for assignment, making room on the 40-man roster for reliever Colten Brewer. The outfielder was not moved and somehow cleared waivers, enabling the Yankees to send him to Triple-A RailRiders on Friday.

It’s surprising that the former top prospect made it through waivers, but the Yankees are undoubtedly glad to have him as outfield depth. Through 30 games in the big leagues, Estevan Florial has a .579 OPS.

Estevan Florial, 25, has been a member of the Yankees’ organization since November 2019. So far in the major leagues, he’s hit .185/.302/.278, which means he stands 31% poorer compared to the MLB average. Strikeouts account for a third of his plate appearances.

Saturday, two days after signing outfielder Franchy Cordero, the Yankees designated the talented, though raw, outfielder for assignment.

Estevan Florial’s performance remains below par

They allowed Estevan Florial to clear waivers, but no club claimed the 25-year-old, who was the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect in 2019 but has yet to translate his potential into big-league productivity.

Estevan Florial has struck out 21 times in 63 career MLB plate appearances, an issue that has followed him from the minors to the majors.

But, he had his greatest Triple-A season last year, with an .850 OPS in 101 games with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In spring, he competed for an Opening Day spot.

Estevan Florial
Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

Estevan Florial played in Game 1 and he replaced Giancarlo Stanton, but did not play in Game 2. Cordero, 28, has taken his spot in the majors after hitting his first home run with the Yankees on Friday.

“We’ve been through a lot with Flo. Such a great kid,” Boone said after Estevan Florial was designated. “The one thing that I tried to remind him and encourage him is he’s still a young man with a ton of talent.”

Surprising decision

Even though Estevan Florial didn’t do much to impress, it’s surprising to see him go through waivers without being picked up. Those mediocre numbers in the major leagues come from just 63 plate appearances spread out over four seasons, which isn’t much to go on.

During his time in the minor leagues, Estevan Florial was seen as a very promising player. In 2018, Baseball America ranked him #38 in the league. His value as a prospect has dropped over the years, but he still has some interesting numbers in the minors. Last year, in 101 games at Triple-A, he hit 15 home runs and stole 39 bases. He hit .283/.368/.481, which gave him a wRC+ of 124. Estevan Florial is also thought to be a good center-field defender, which makes him a well-rounded player in the minor leagues.

Estevan Florial’s biggest problem

Estevan Florial
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That doesn’t mean that his profile is perfect. The strikeouts are the biggest problem with Estevan Florial. He has kept getting punched out at a high rate at almost every level of the minor leagues. Even though his overall numbers in Triple-A were good last year, Estevan Florial struck out 30.4% of the time. He has also run out of choices because the Yankees have kept sending him to the big leagues and sending him back to the farm. That meant that any team that wanted Estevan Florial would have had to put him on their active roster. Even though he had all the right tools, it looks like no club was willing to give him that shot.

Now, Estevan Florial will still play for the Yankees, but he won’t be on their 40-man roster. Since this is his first career outright and he has less than three years of MLB service time, he doesn’t have the right to reject the assignment and choose free agency. He will go to the RailRiders and try to get back on the roster by striking out less.

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