For the Miami Marlins to eventually return to World Series glory, they must develop impactful players at several different positions. That includes a rock-solid double play combination. The 4-6-3 is one of the most common double plays in the game, and also the name of this brand new profile series. Over the next few weeks, I will be covering the top middle infield prospects in the Marlins farm system.
You’ll learn who these young players are, but also what to expect from them moving forward. The 4-6-3 will discuss their potential, where they fit in the future of the franchise, and draw some MLB comparisons.
Middle Infielders on Marlins Top 30 Prospects List
Christopher Torres, 20, is one of the most versatile infielders in the Marlins organization.
Torres was signed by the Seattle Mariners for $375,000 during the 2014 International signing period after a supposed $2.1 million dollar deal fell through with the New York Yankees. After three years in the Mariners system, Torres came to Miami as a piece of the Dee Gordon trade in November 2017 along with pitchers Nick Neidert and Robert Dugger.
A stocky athlete with plus speed who displays quick hands from both sides of the plate, Torres performed well in 2018 (when healthy). He slashed .256/.389/.350 in 39 games with 26/36 BB/K across three different levels of competition. Pretty impressive discipline for such a young player, raising his career on-base percentage to .364. After only seven games with Short Season A Batavia, Torres earned a promotion to Greensboro where he posted the second-highest OBP on the team (min. 30 games).
Torres’ ability to get on base was evident and his plus arm at both second and short was exciting to see. For the time being, he’s assigned to the roster of the organization’s new Low-A affiliate, the Clinton LumberKings.
Tools: 50 Hit/40 Power/60 Run/60 Arm/55 Field (45 Overall)
Being the 18th overall prospect in the 2014 International signing period, Torres was known for having plus speed with a plus arm, having potential to stick at shortstop long term. I can agree to that same report to this day.
Over his first 108 games in 2015-16 in the Marniers system, Torreshe hit 7 triples and stole 32 bases with an OBP above .350 at ages 17 and 18. Not showing too much raw power, but the ability to drive the ball deep into the gaps from both sides of the plate.
In 2017, we saw the signs of raw power with the Short Season Everett AquaSox, hitting 20 extra-base hits (6 home runs) and stealing 13 more bases in 48 games. The power came with a price, though, as he posted a career-low average of .238 and career worst BB/K ratio. Being traded at the end of 2017 gave Torres opportunity to bounce back from a down season for a new club. A fresh start.
Unfortunately, his first spring in the Marlins organization started slow, with a minor injury causing Torres to miss time and not make his debut until June 16 for the Batavia. He was only active two games before tweaking something again, forcing him to miss another month. After two hitless tune-up games with the GCL Marlins, Torres was reassigned to Batavia where his bats turned en fuego. From July 19-August 4, he rattled off a 10-game hitting streak, earning a promotion to the Greensboro Grasshoppers in the middle of it.
Hitting the ball hard to the opposite field, including a home run from the right side of the plate, hints that Torres has more power to come, according to the side scouts. Very developed swing from the left side. It’s hard to rate his potential at the this moment, but in my eyes, he could be the most complete player in the system within two years. The consistent, hard contact is already there, just not much lift yet. That will come as his swing continues to develop. Sells out on occasion with some huge hacks, but as he puts weight on his 175-pound frame, I think he abandons those with power coming naturally. When he’s been on the field, it’s been exciting.
Running the bases is where I think Torres will really flourish in 2019 as I think he sees playing time in the Florida State League. He’s capable of at least 20 steals a year barring injuries.
Most of all, the glove is what puts Torres on a major league trajectory. Starting his career playing a majority of games at shortstop (157 out of 199), Torres shifted to second base for Greensboro when Osiris Johnson manned shortstop to close out the year. I think that’s likely his long-term home. Some people I talk to see him as a utility player ceiling, but showing decent lateral moment to go along with a 60-grade arm, I don’t see why Chris Torres won’t be an everyday MLB second baseman by 2021.
Fit Within the Farm System
From a Seattle system in 2016 that quite possibly had the worst infield depth in baseball, this is quite a step up in competition. Chris Torres fits firmly into the new wave of talent in Miami. After playing alongside Johnson for the majority of his time in Greensboro, I expect more of the same to start 2019 for the LumberKings, followed by a promotion to High-A Jupiter later in the summer.
In my eyes, Torres offers as much upside at second base as anyone in the organization. Pairing with José Devers—already in Jupiter—would be a bit reminiscent of how Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo used to combine to manufacture runs all over the diamond.
Torres has been a steady climber on prospect lists since his debut in 2015. He currently sits at 17th on the MLB Pipeline Marlins Top 30, up one spot from the preseason list. Continuing with his current development and showing his skills on a daily basis, I imagine Torres being a consensus Top 12 prospect on every Marlins list by the end of 2019.
Low-End Projection: Everth Cabrera
A slick-fielding shortstop with above-average speed, Everth Cabrera was in the majors from 2009-2015, playing for 6 different organizations along the way. He’s best remembered as a member of the San Diego Padres. The high point of his career was 2012, when he played 115 games and lead the NL in stolen bases with 44.
I see quite a few similarities between Torres and Cabrera if his raw power never develops. Consider their production through the first 100 career games in the minors:
Torres: .253/.368/.351, 26 XBH, 32 SB
Cabrera: .275/.406/.354, 19 XBH, 31 SB
It’s up to Torres to hone his skills from here, but the baseline of a seven-year MLB vet with speed and .967 career fielding percentage isn’t a bad place to start.
True Ceiling: Starlin Castro
Current Marlins second baseman is the mold I see Torres falling into as his career unfolds. Castro signed out of the Dominican Republic at age 17, same as Torres, Castro had thin frame with a solid arm and better hands. A slightly more advanced bat in the early stages of his career then Torres currently, but the similarities are there: high OBP with double-digit steals. When Castro started to put weight on is when the power showed. After only hitting 11 total home runs in his first five pro seasons in the organization, Starlin went on to hit 10+ bombs for the next six years in a row. He sacrificed some contact, but established himself as an impactful player overall.
If Torres adjusts his launch angle and takes advantage of advanced plate discipline and extremely quick hands, he can potentially pile up four MLB All-Star selections like Castro.
Shoot for the Moon: José Ramírez
Now just hear me out here for a second. José Ramírez was fairly under the radar his first three years in the Indians organization, despite the fact that he was tearing the cover off the ball. Torres isn’t that caliber of player...yet. After dealing with injuries and now a new organization, he hasn’t had the luxury of a consistent routine.
This stands out to me:
Career stats from rookie ball through Low-A
Torres (199 games) .364 OBP, 26 2B, 17 3B, 10 HR, 49 SB
Ramírez (148 games) .375 OBP, 33 2B, 9 3B, 4HR, 39 SB
Those numbers get you excited—they came at the same ages, both from switch-hitters who play multiple positions. Let’s keep in mind that Ramírez didn’t hit 15+ home runs at any level until last year. Power can develop later on. They have fairly similar swings from both sides of the plate and offer a very limited leg kick backed with lighting quick hands.
All I’m saying is, if Chris Torres learns to get lift from the left side of the plate, then a 20/20 guy might not be so far-fetched after all.
And there you have it: Chris Torres, the versatile middle infielder soon to be making double play magic in the Marlins organization for a long time. Gary Denbo missed out on getting this young man in 2014 with Yankees. Now, he gets the chance to turn him into something special. Be ready.
I wanna thank you for reading this profile and I hope you enjoyed it! Stay tuned for the second article in the series featuring Marlins 2018 second-round draft pick Osiris Johnson.