Yankees Top 30 Prospects for 2020: Estevan Florial (OF, #6)
Today we continue our Yankees Top-30 Prospects Countdown for the 2020 season with OF Estevan Florial.
Estevan Florial has been known by different names, different birth dates, and different countries of origin, all of which probably helped him get signed even if it meant that he lost out on a huge bonus. Coming out of Haiti, it isn’t a popular baseball location for scouts and he very well could have been missed. Since his signing, Florial has proved that he is a top prospect, even making it as high as #50 in the MLB and #1 in the Yankees system, but is starting to fall quickly from those pillars of future greatness. An overaggressive approach at the plate has lead to a very high yearly K% that hovers above 25% and a poor eye for recognizing pitches has kept his BB% low and limited his hard contact. As a baserunner he also needs a lot of work to reach 30-30 potential, but luckily he is showing a future as a solid defender in center field. Prospect fatigue is starting to wear in as he has been with the Tampa Tarpons for parts of 4 seasons now, and he’ll have to prove it with the Trenton Thunder in 2020 to prevent falling even farther.
(Screenshot From New York Yankees Video, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_n777UGZ1a4)
Estevan Florial, OF (#6):
Age/Date of Birth: 22 Years Old (11/25/1997)
2019 Team(s): Tampa Tarpons (Class A Advanced)
2019 MiLB Statistics: .237/.297/.383 (0.680 OPS), 8 HR, 38 RBIs, 24 Walks, 98 Strikeouts (74 Games, 274 At-Bats)
Height/Weight: 6’1”/185 Pounds
Acquired: Signed by the Yankees during the 2014/15 International Signing Period
MLB ETA: 2022
Estevan Florial Scouting Grades (20-80 Scale):
What to Know:
Estevan Florial was one of the top prospects going into the 2014/15 international signing period, but nobody knew that. If you asked any scout looking at him, they’d say that he was a lock for a mult-million dollar signing bonus. He had the tools, the age, and was known as Haniel de Oleo, an identity he assumed while registering for school in the Dominican Republic. This sent the MLB into action, banning Florial from signing for a year, which was cut short when he was able to produce a legitimate Haitian birth certificate that had a different birth date, but made him eligible to sign. The Yankees swept in on March 19th, 2015 with a $200,000 bonus, signing the player out of Haiti. It seems like a crazy story, but in context it made sense for Florial to want to go to the DR, where he was much more likely to be seen as a ballplayer and to make his dreams come true. Unfortunately, that journey is the case for many Haitian-born baseball prospects.
By signing late in the IFA signing period, this allowed the outfielder now known as Estevan Florial to place that same season with the Yankees in the Dominican Summer League. And, this may have been the most important season in his career as he looked to prove the birth-certificate fiasco was for a good reason. Playing in 57 games, Florial absolute did that, hitting to a .313/.394/.527 triple-slash, and while he struck out at a 27% clip, it was overshadowed by a great overall showing of his game.
That next season, the Yankees looked to find what they truly had with Florial as he started the season with the Tampa Tarpons (Class A Advanced), which was an incredible jump and only lasted for 2 games before moving to a more traditional landing spot for an American professional debut, with the Pulaski Yankees. He wouldn’t finish the season here, and his numbers took a dip over 60 games at the level, producing to a .225/.315/.364 triple-slash. An end-of-the season jump to the Charleston RiverDogs for 5 games ended his season, but a lot of his downward trend could be seen in his very high GO/AO that was above 2.00, and he needed to work on getting more consistent contact and putting the ball in the air.
2017 would be Florial’s first season without a stint at a Rookie-level affiliate, and his first as a ranked prospect, coming out at #17 in the preseason. He would spend 91 games with the RiverDogs and 19 with the Tarpons by seasons end, the latter being a deserved promotion. It was a good bounce back season, as he hit a collective .298/.371/.479 (.850 OPS) at each level with 13 HR’s, but his K% of 35% and his GO/AO of 2.12 were not promising numbers to see. What this was presenting is that with solid contact, Florial is a great player but he isn’t consistent with getting the bat on the ball which leads to lots of strikeouts and groundouts. This would also pump Florial to the #3 ranking in the farm system, #79 in the MLB, and some time playing in the Arizona Fall League.
Unfortunately, 2018 was not the season many were hoping for from Florial, as he started the season ranked #2 in the system. After receiving a non-roster invitation to Spring Training, he went back to the Tampa Tarpons where he played for about a month before landing on the DL when he needed to have surgery on his right hamate. This kept him out from mid-May until July, featuring an incredible amount of roster changes between teams in the GCL before getting back to Tampa. He would finish the season there, but saw a tick-down in his stats to a triple-slash of .255/.354/.361 at the advanced Class-A level with nearly a 30% strikeout percentage as well. His GO/AO did drop to a much better 1.37 and his BB% rate reached a career bes 13%, and even with the injuries, he was bumped up to be the #1 Yankees prospect and #45 overall in the MLB.
2019 was a little bit more of the same for Florial, as he started to drop in favor from many scouts as he started the season on the IL. He did come back with another non-roster invitation to Spring Training, but during so injured his wrist which kept him out until June 3rd. Upon returning, he also didn’t show brilliance even though it was now his 4th year while playing in Tampa. He hit to a .237/.297/.383 triple-slash along with his career worst BB% (8%) and K% (33%), all of which he had shown improvements with in 2018. This brought Florial down to #3 in the system and #82 in the MLB at the seasons end. The Yankees did select his contract at the end of the season to prevent him from being lost in the Rule 5 draft, and have already moved him up to the Trenton Thunder when the 2020 season begins.
Overall, Estevan Florial may have the best all-around ability for the game in the farm system, but his numbers and development are held back incredibly from recent injuries and a very aggressive approach. As a lefty, he holds an upper-hand with a future in hitting towards the short porch in Yankee Stadium, along with being able to produce above-average power to all fields when he makes good contact. He needs to work a lot on recognizing pitches and keeping himself from getting too “pull-happy” to keep his stock high. As a baserunner he also needs to work if he wants to reach his potential of being a 30-30 player, as he has the speed to steal many bases but needs to get on base more and know better when to run. Luckily, he is improving on defense which is helped in center field by his speed and his good to great arm strength that helps him solidify a future in the outfield at a position where bat matters least and could help him make the MLB.
What Will the Future Hold?
Estevan Florial has already been sent to the Trenton Thunder to start the 2020 season (whenever that happens), so with that already set up it’ll be interesting to see if he plays well enough to stick around or if he ends up back with the Tampa Tarpons for a part of a 5th season. He’ll need to play well enough to stay with the Trenton Thunder if he wants to stay on track to make the MLB in 2022, which would also be good for the Yankees as they could have another CF and potential be able to move on from Aaron Hicks while he would still have some value left as a 32-year-old outfielder.
As a prospect, Estevan Florial has gone from the highest of highs and is starting to fall back down towards being a middle-of-the-pack prospect because a future in the MLB is starting to truly slip away. There may also be a form of prospect fatigue as he has been ranked as a prospect for the last four years while not advancing to a higher level than he had made at that same point. It’s very hard to get excited about a player who is in Florial’s position, and this may be his final season to prove that he will be able to reach his potential before falling very quickly from being a top prospect to a lottery throw-in piece in some trade with a team hoping he may find it in a different system.