Five days a week Estevan Florial enters Steinbrenner Field to make sure if spring training resumes the outfielder will be ready and his baseball knowledge increased.
“I come here and lift, take some swings and throw a little bit. I try to get ready so when we get back to playing ball I will be prepared. We have a small group, so being around these guys has been a great experience,’’ Florial wrote to The Post via email about working out with Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, DJ LeMahieu and Miguel Andujar. “I think it’s been great to be next to them and try to pick things up from them in this atmosphere. The group here is special. I pay close attention to how they go about their business and try to pick their brains.’’
Wrist injuries have cost Florial playing time each of the previous two minor league seasons and moved the 22-year-old center fielder down the list of top Yankees prospects. Following the 2018 season, Florial was tabbed by Baseball America as the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect.
He had hamate surgery on his right wrist early in the 2018 season playing for Single-A Tampa, and suffered a non-displaced right wrist fracture and a second break of a bone in his hand in big league spring training in 2019.
Adding to the slip down the prospect list has been strikeout totals. In five minor league seasons the 6-foot-1, 195-pound left-handed hitter, has whiffed 484 times in 1,507 at-bats compared to 412 hits. In the past two seasons he has struck out 127 times and gotten 78 hits.
Florial, a plus defender, is a career .273 hitter with 42 homers and 213 RBIs in 392 minor league games. His best season was 2017 with Single-A Charleston — when he hit .297 with 11 homers, 43 RBIs and posted a .856 OPS in a career-high 91 games.
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“It’s part of the game. You don’t want to strike out all of the time,’’ Florial said of the strikeouts in spring training. “I have to get better at that.’’
With minor league games likely to not be played due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Florial’s development might be restricted to working out in case he’s needed for the big league club if a season starts.
“It’s been very frustrating. Nobody was thinking something like this would be happening. I feel very sad, but I just try to do what I can,’’ Florial explained.
As for the possibility of being put on an expanded roster or being part of a reserve bunch, Florial would look forward to either.
“I would be very excited about it. Obviously if I get the opportunity to be placed on a roster it’s going to be great. I just want to be playing the game again. I just want to play. Somewhere. Somehow,’’ Florial stated.
Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015, Florial has been a professional baseball player for five years, and this one is by far the strangest.
“It’s absolutely weird. No games anywhere? To go this long without baseball? It’s such a strange experience,’’ said Florial, who thanked God that his family hasn’t been touched by the coronavirus.