In the three seasons since the Hudson Valley Renegades became a New York Yankees affiliate, one player has been ever-present. Infielder Eduardo Torrealba has been along for the ride for a lot over the past three years, and in the process, he has etched his name among the baseball legends
In the three seasons since the Hudson Valley Renegades became a New York Yankees affiliate, one player has been ever-present. Infielder Eduardo Torrealba has been along for the ride for a lot over the past three years, and in the process, he has etched his name among the baseball legends of the Hudson Valley.
The slick-fielding middle infielder has taken over this season as the Renegades’ all-time hits leader and games played leader. As of the end of the 2023 season, he ranks in the top 10 in Renegades history in nine offensive categories. The nature of Minor League Baseball is not necessarily that anyone wants to stick with one team long enough to set records, but Torrealba was content in his role as the most veteran player on the team.
“I feel very proud of being here. I really like this city, this stadium, and the people,” said Torrealba upon returning to the Renegades in 2023. “[I’m] very grateful for them having me back. I’ve been enjoying it a lot.”
His enjoyment of the Hudson Valley might have something to do with his stellar performance this season at the plate, where he hit .281/.379/.344 through August 2, when he was promoted to Double-A Somerset. He played exclusively second and third base this season, but has seen time at shortstop and in left field in his time with the Renegades.
The 24-year-old has never been a huge power hitter, but took his bat-to-ball skills to the next level this season, cutting his strikeout rate down from an already solid 16.1% in 2022 to 12.4% in 2023. Coupled with his walk rate spiking from 7.5% to 11.8%, Torrealba’s batting average jumped 65 points, and his on-base percentage increased 93 points this year.
An Improbable Journey
Torrealba’s time with the Renegades and in the Yankees organization almost never came to pass. When he was 16 in 2015, he signed with the Boston Red Sox, and began playing for their Dominican Summer League team the next year. He appeared in 22 games with the DSL Red Sox in 2016, before scandal hit, though it was no fault of Eduardo’s.
After signing Cuban superstar Yoan Moncada to a $32 million contract prior to the 2015 season, Boston faced restrictions on the signing bonuses they were allowed to give in the 2015 international signing period. The Sox tried to circumvent those limitations, but were caught and had to release five players – including Torrealba – in what is now known as the Red Sox bonus packaging scandal.
On July 1, 2016, Torrealba became a free agent again, and four days later he signed with the Yankees, his baseball home ever since. He climbed the ladder of the Yankees system progressing from the DSL to Pulaski, Staten Island, Charleston, and Tampa before landing in the Hudson Valley for the first time in 2021.
Throughout the journey he has seen many of his teammates make the major leagues, and is in awe of the talent that he has had the privilege of playing alongside this year with the Renegades.
“I shared the field in Hudson Valley with guys like [Anthony] Volpe,” said Torrealba. “Now I share the field with Vargy [Alexander Vargas], I shared the field with [Trey] Sweeney, too. I feel like this group right now are really good players, really good guys that try to get better all the time. They practice hard, so I hope to see them like the other guys – like Volpe in the Bronx or Ezequiel Duran with Texas. In the beginning that’s the main goal for everybody, and I feel like this group has a big chance to make a big leap.”
Onward and Upward
Torrealba began the 2023 season in Double-A with the Somerset Patriots, but was assigned to the Renegades on May 9 after Caleb Durbin was promoted. That is the nature of baseball sometimes – the Yankees wanted Torrealba to get more playing time, and there wasn’t going to be room for him to do so in Somerset.
He took it in stride and kept a positive attitude. When he arrived, he was impressed by the improvements to Heritage Financial Park with a new outfield wall and clubhouse space that he said “feels very, very comfortable.”
Torrealba’s maturity, work ethic, and drive propelled him to three strong months with the Renegades, before his number was finally called again and he was promoted back to Double-A on August 3. The player who has left such a mark on his teammates, the Renegades fans, and the team record book is now one step closer to realizing his Major League dreams.
“You know, there’s things that we can control and there’s things that we can’t, so I just try to do my best everywhere I go every time,” said Torrealba. “I’m just trying to get better and do my job. It’s the only thing I can control, you know, put 100% of my effort in every day, being on time, and just try to enjoy the game. The rest of … I can’t do anything about it. Just play hard and have fun all the time.”
The 2023 season marked Torrealba's sixth in the Yankees organization, and for minor leaguers, that means the end of their contracts. Torrealba, like many others signed in 2017, was granted free agency, and is now available for any team around the world to sign. Much like Major League free agents, a vast majority of Minor League free agents have not signed yet. However, whichever team brings him on, whether it is the Yankees re-signing him or another club, will be getting a player who not only contributes on the field with his bat and glove, but a great teammate and leader.