Yankees Top 30 Prospects for 2021: Estevan Florial (OF, #10)
Prospect fatigue is a real thing which gets multiplied by injuries and poor performance from promising stars. Unfortunately, many have given up on Estevan Florial due to this fatigue and his name being in the Yankees system since 2015. A powerful left-handed bat who could be the Yankees next centerfielder, Florial has a long and complicated history to get to his point. 30:30 HR:SB potential is a potential future, but so are 200 strikeout seasons. The big question: Is Florial getting better? I’d say Yes.
ESTEVAN FLORIAL, OF (#10):
Age/Date of Birth: 23 Years Old (11/25/1997)
Most Recent Team(s) (Level and Year): Tampa Tarpons (Class-A, 2019); Somerset Patriots (Double-A, 2021)
Most Recent Yearly Statistics (2019): .237/.297/.383 (.680 OPS), 8 HR, 38 RBIs, 24 Walks, 98 Strikeouts (74 Games, 301 At-Bats)
Height/Weight: 6’1”/195 Pounds
Acquired: Signed by the Yankees as part of the 2014/2015 International Free Agent Class in mid-March 2015.
MLB ETA: 2021
ESTEVAN FLORIAL SCOUTING GRADES (20-80 SCALE):
What to Know:
If you asked scouts going into the 2014 International Free Agent class who one of the most toolsy and promising players was there would’ve been a lot of hearing the name: Haniel de Oleo, a player from the Dominican Republic. However, there has never been a player of that name to play baseball. Instead, we now know that player as Estevan Florial, of Haiti.
After learning that he assumed an identity other than his own, the MLB banned Florial from signing for a year. This suspension would ultimately be cut short when Florial produced a legitimate Haitian birth certificate (that also had a different birth date), ultimately putting him back on the market late in the cycle in mid-March of 2015. This helped the Yankees sign him for $200,000, taking a risk on the then 17-year-old.
In that 2015 season, Florial would be assigned to the Yankees 1 of the Dominican Summer League (Foreign Rookie) where he would play 57 games while showcasing his stuff was for real with a triple-slash of .313/.394/.527.
In 2016, Florial would earn multiple promotions, while starting and playing most of the his year with the Pulaski Yankees (Rookie, Appalachian League). Of his 67 games played, Florial spent 67 in northern New York state before earning a quick 5-game stint with the Charleston RiverDogs (Class A, South Atlantic League) and a 2-game stint with then Tampa Yankees (Class A+, Florida State League). He would finish the season with a combined .683 OPS.
Much of the same came in 2017, spending 91 games in Charleston and 19 games at Tampa, though improvements including a rise to an .850 OPS were seen and the Yankees sent him to the Arizona Fall League where he continued to play well with a .797 OPS against tougher opponents.
However, 2018 and 2019 brought stalling to Florial as his prospect allure was growing old (as is what happens with many top international stars who need development) and he suffered two major injuries. A right hamate injury late in 2018 started the downward trend after another solid (.799 OPS at Tampa) season. He did some rehab in the Gulf Coast League and again went to Arizona where he played poorly (.554 OPS). 2019 brought more grief as Florial suffered a wrist injury while producing to a .680 OPS in his 4th year with the Tampa Yankees/Tarpons.
In 2020 the Yankees continued to hope on his promise, keeping Florial at the newly created “alternate site”, of which helped earn him his MLB Debut on August 28th against the New York Mets. He would go 1-3 in the game, of which has been his only MLB action. In this past offseason, Florial spent some time with the Leones del Escogido (Dominican Winter League) to get more at-bats as he started to come back while hitting to a .793 OPS.
So far in 2021, Florial has been assigned to the Somerset Patriots (Double A, Northeast), where he has hit to a .333/.412/1.067 triple-slash with a 1.478 OPS and 3 Home Runs.
As a hitter, Florial is the current prototypical Yankees hitter: large power potential with low contact seen. He has plus bat speed, strength, and abilities, which combined with his left-handed approach should only help him take advantage of the short porch in Yankee stadium, and Yankees scouts believe he made big strides during the odd-2020 season, but there are questions. Florial remains a pull-happy hitter who tends to get lost on off-speed pitches, which has led to career 28% strikeout-rate. Numbers like that are hard to look past.
As a runner and a fielder, Florial grades out positively thanks to plus-speed, a plus-arm, and plus fielding IQ. All of this helps him man center field with very little issues. Some even believe he has true 30-30 (HR-SB) potential at the next level with a refined baserunning approach as well.
What Will the Future Hold?
Estevan Florial is one of the (very few) players who was able to take advantage of the 2020 season as the Yankees kept him in the alternate site as a back-up centerfield option after Aaron Hicks and Brett Gardner. With that, he had time to work on his all-around game with top scouts in the Yankees system and got to practice against better players than he otherwise had during his career. With this, the Yankees promoted him for the first time to Double-A Somerset, where he is currently playing and hitting extremely well. After a “season” in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre it should come that Florial finds his way back there again this season.
With an MLB ETA of 2021 (and an MLB debut already in the books), Estevan Florial also has a shot of reaching the MLB again in 2021. We are all well aware of the injury history to the Yankees current centerfielder Aaron Hicks, of which could play favorably to Florial if the Yankees need a true CF (which is no longer the role for 37-year-old Brett Gardner) to cover for Hicks if he hits the IL this season.