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Red-hot Torres could be answer for Yankees

MLB.com @BryanHoch

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has wondered how the 2017 season would have been altered had Gleyber Torres not attempted a headfirst slide into home plate. The top prospect's promotion seemed to be inevitable, and his presence may have removed the need for a July trade that delivered veteran infielder Todd Frazier to The Bronx.

In Cashman's estimation, Torres had "conquered" the Eastern League and was beginning to do the same in the International League when his season ended abruptly on the afternoon of June 17, when he attempted to score from second base on a hit to right field. With Torres again raking for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, could he provide the spark that the Yankees need?

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has wondered how the 2017 season would have been altered had Gleyber Torres not attempted a headfirst slide into home plate. The top prospect's promotion seemed to be inevitable, and his presence may have removed the need for a July trade that delivered veteran infielder Todd Frazier to The Bronx.

In Cashman's estimation, Torres had "conquered" the Eastern League and was beginning to do the same in the International League when his season ended abruptly on the afternoon of June 17, when he attempted to score from second base on a hit to right field. With Torres again raking for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, could he provide the spark that the Yankees need?

According to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal, if Torres remains in the Minors until Wednesday, he would have spent 20 days in the Minors. As a member of the 40-man roster, that would delay Torres' free agency an additional year until the offseason of 2024-25, crediting the Yanks with six-plus years of control (the rest of this season plus six more) rather than just six.

Anything less than 20 days in the Minors would not count as an optional assignment, which would credit the player with retroactive service time. Regardless, Cashman has repeatedly stated that the service time consideration is "not part of my evaluation process."

"We're trying to win games," Cashman said. "Every win for us is valuable."

Rated as the No. 5 prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline, the 21-year-old Torres has hit well through seven games at Triple-A, prompting speculation that he could supplant Tyler Wade in the Yankees' infield.

Torres has batted .370/.379/.556, stroking 10 hits in 27 at-bats with a triple, homer and six RBIs. He went 2-for-3 in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's 11-1 victory at Charlotte on Thursday, and he's played shortstop (three games), third base (three games) and second base (one game).

"I think if they called him up, he could definitely compete up there now," RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell told the Scranton Times-Tribune. "There's just certain things for him to become the player he needs to become and can become. Things that he needs to refine and get better at. But it's not just about hitting when you go up there.

"It's about every aspect of the game that you need to master. And he's trying and he's doing a great job and he's moving right along. I mean, he's not far, obviously. I think if they called him up, I think he'd be fine. He'd probably learn on the fly."

After winning a roster spot with a strong spring, Wade has struggled, batting .097 (3-for-31) with two doubles and three RBIs in 10 games. Wade also committed a throwing error in Thursday's 6-3 loss to the Red Sox, after which manager Aaron Boone said that he is considering giving more playing time to utility man Ronald Torreyes.

Torres came into Spring Training vying for the starting second-base job, but Cashman and Boone sensed signs of rust after his nine-month layoff. He was optioned to Triple-A on March 13, and the Yanks believed that their infield would be set with Brandon Drury, Wade and Neil Walker.

"[Boone and Cashman told me] just to stay focused," Torres said then. 'They told me I need more at-bats and more games and be ready for another opportunity."

That chance could be coming sooner than Torres -- and the Yankees -- might have anticipated.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres