The Yankees will have to wait until next season for their top prospect to reach the Bronx. On Monday afternoon, the team announced that shortstop Gleyber Torres will miss the rest of the 2017 season due to a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. Torres, who was acquired from the Cubs last July in the Aroldis Chapman trade, suffered the injury while sliding into home plate on Saturday and will undergo Tommy John surgery at a date to be determined later, according to a press release.
Ranked the No. 5 prospect in the game by Baseball America before the season, the 20-year-old Torres got off to a terrific start in his first taste of Double A, hitting .273/.367/.496 in 139 plate appearances with five homers and five steals for Trenton. Despite his young age, he was promoted to Triple A Scranton Wilkes-Barre on May 23 and, after a slow start, continued to hit at the highest level of the minors, putting up a .309/.406/.457 slash line in 96 plate appearances across 23 games.
Torres' excellent season combined with another down year from regular third baseman Chase Headley (who is hitting .244/.329/.364 through 255 plate appearances) had most baseball analysts and fans wondering whether the Yankees would look past his age and promote him to the majors to take over at the hot corner. But while Torres had been playing more regularly at third in both Double and Triple A, his manager at Scranton, Al Pedrique, told ESPN that he felt the Venezuelan infielder needed more seasoning in the minors. "If you ask me today, if the call comes, he is not ready," Pedrique said, noting that Torres' defense still needed work.
The torn UCL and subsequent surgery will put an end to any hopes of a 2017 debut for Torres, though luckily for the Yankees, position player UCL injuries usually take only six or so months to rehab. Twins third baseman Miguel Sano, for instance, tore his UCL in March 2014 and missed the entire season but was fully ready to go by the start of spring training the following year. Torres also suffered the injury to his non-throwing arm, which should help speed the recovery.
Torres is the second highly-ranked Yankees prospect to suffer a torn UCL this season, joining righthanded pitcher James Kaprielian, who went under the knife back in April and will likely be out until the midpoint of the 2018 season.
The Yankees (38–29) entered Monday tied for first place in the American League East with the Red Sox but have been on a skid as of late, having lost six in a row and back-to-back series against the Angels and Athletics on the road. Sunday's loss to Oakland marked the first time all season that New York has been swept in a series.