Where Have You Gone Estevan Florial?
“Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?
Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you”
Simon & Garfunkel – Mrs. Robinson
A year ago, Estevan Florial was the darling of many Yankees prospect watchers, including me. He had completed a half season at High A and looked to be improving his strike zone discipline, his biggest weakness. His strikeout rate had fallen from 31.9% in 2017 at Low A to 25.7% at High A. In addition, his walk rate increased from 10.5% to 13.0%. Not bad for a 21 year old! He only hit three home runs in half a season at High A, but I thought that his 20 home run power would come back eventually.
Florial is supposedly a solid defender in center with 20 home run power, and with those walk and strikeout rates, you are looking at a .270/.375/.470 or so hitter at a premium position. That’s a valuable asset and a player who I thought could be the next Yankee center fielder after Aaron Hicks made the eventual transition to left field.
And then 2019 happened. Florial was hurt for half the season, and when he returned, he regressed horribly at High A. He hit more home runs (8 in half of a season) but his strikeout rate increased to 32.6% and his walk rate dropped to 8.0%. Now he did hurt his wrist, which is a nasty injury and one that can obviously impact performance at the plate, but still, this was a huge step in the wrong direction.
Because of last year, Florial has dropped off of the Top 100 Prospect lists. He is still young, and I would imagine will start the season at High A (Tampa) again. The Yankees protected him from the Rule 5 Draft, so they obviously believe in him. Let’s hope that he can stay healthy and have a breakout year.