TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees are sending Gleyber Torres down for more seasoning, believing that their top prospect needs to log more plate appearances in order to prepare for a potential call to the Bronx.Rated as the game's No. 5 prospect by MLB Pipeline, Torres was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees are sending Gleyber Torres down for more seasoning, believing that their top prospect needs to log more plate appearances in order to prepare for a potential call to the Bronx.
Rated as the game's No. 5 prospect by MLB Pipeline, Torres was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and reassigned to Minor League camp following Tuesday's 2-2 Grapefruit League tie with the Tigers at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Tuesday afternoon.
"I feel good. It's a decision of the team," Torres said. "I don't control that. Just stay focused, work and I'll be ready for another opportunity."
Torres opened camp in contention for the starting job at second base, but he showed signs of rust after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his left elbow last June. Torres managed four hits in 25 at-bats (.160). He hit .287/.383/.480 in 55 games between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A last year.
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"It's not easy, nine months of no games and [to] come back perfect. I'm human," Torres said. "I'll stay focused and go wherever they tell me, do my job and wait for another opportunity."
While Tyler Wade has supplanted Torres as a favorite to win the Opening Day job, the Yanks added more infield depth on Monday, signing veteran Neil Walker to a one-year, $4 million contract. Torres singled and walked in two at-bats on Tuesday before packing his gear.
"For me, it's Gleyber just playing and getting the reps, and he'll be fine," manager Aaron Boone said. "He's really good. I thought his at-bats were a little bit better today, the walk there, smokes a ball for a base hit. All spring, he's hit some balls hard that he hasn't gotten any love for. He just needs now to continue to play and get the reps. It won't be too long when it clicks."
The Yankees' decision to option Torres could pay dividends in the long run. If he spends 16 days in the Minors, it would delay his free agency an additional year until the offseason of 2024-25, thus crediting the Yanks with seven years of service rather than six. General manager Brian Cashman had said that service time would not be a consideration in evaluating Torres' spring.
In their brief conversation, Torres said that Boone and Cashman told him, "Stay focused. They told me I need more at-bats and more games and be ready for another opportunity."
Catcher Kyle Higashioka was also optioned to Triple-A and reassigned to Minor League camp after Tuesday's game. Higashioka, who turns 28 in April, earned his first callup last year after nine seasons in the Minors, but he went hitless in 18 big league at-bats. He was 5-for-15 (.333) this spring.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.