Where does Estevan Florial stand as a prospect since falling down the rankings in 2019, and is it too late for the speedy outfielder to make a comeback?
When learning about Major League Baseball and how the game works, one thing people stress, especially when talking about a rebuilding team, is that prospects are a complete and utter crap-shoot. There’s no such thing as a “can’t miss” prospect. On the flip side, other prospects hit the ground running out of nowhere. The New York Yankees have seen their fair share of prospects have resounding success in the bigs, like Gleyber Torres, Aaron Judge, and Luis Severino. One former top prospect has taken a big hit since he was last profiled on here, though, and that brings us to Estevan Florial.
On March 19, 2015, the Yankees signed Florial and assigned him to the DSL Yankees in Rookie Ball. There’s a reason the speedy left-handed outfielder shot up the prospect rankings, as Florial slashed .313/.394/.527 in 57 games. Florial also cracked seven homers and drove home 53, stealing 15 out of 20 bases and looking like a real five-tool player.
In 2016, he took a step back between Tampa, Pulaski, and Charleston, three of the lower affiliates. He hit just .227 with a .312 on-base percentage, but in 2017, Florial turned back the clock to two years prior. He hit .298 with a .372 on-base percentage and had a career-high in longballs with 13 in 110 games. MLB.com had Florial as the 79th best prospect in the sport.
In 2018, Florial even took things a step further. His on-base percentage climbed to .377 with a .282 batting average and stole 16 out of 26 bases in 82 games. Here, MLB.com took notice of a fast-rising young talent, ranking him the 45th best prospect in baseball by the season’s end.
Where Things Went Wrong for Estevan Florial
2019 was a nightmare season for Estevan Florial. He spent the entire season in Tampa, the Yankees Class A Advanced affiliate, and took a major step back, slashing .237/.297/.383. He provided solid pop with 8 home runs in 74 games, but only stole nine bases and was caught five times, showing his wheels were a little rusty. At the beginning of the season, MLB.com had Florial as the 57th best-ranked prospect. He finished at 82. Currently, Florial isn’t even a top-100 prospect and is ranked the sixth-best prospect in Yankees’ system.
A couple of things can be attributed to Florial’s fall. For one, he has been bitten by the injury bug a bit the past few seasons, missing roughly two months in both 2018 and 2019 after receiving hamate bone surgery and fracturing his wrist in spring training, respectively.
Another flaw of Florial is his strikeout numbers. In this day and age, strikeouts are expected, but most players who go down by way of the “K” in today’s game are heavy run producers. In 74 games played in 2019, Florial went down on strikes 98 times. This has been a consistent issue for Florial, as even in 2017–arguably his best season–he struck out 148 times. Lastly, the outfielder has been praised a lot for his speed, but only nine steals in 14 attempts in 2019 was most definitely a regression.
With all this said, Florial is still only 22-years-old with a lot to prove. It’s a very real possibility that, because of the wrist fracture in 2019, that his play took a hit too and was never fully recovered. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait a little while until we can see Estevan Florial, or any baseball player, for that matter, out on the diamond again, but it’s not late for the former top-prospect to turn his stock around.