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May 15—When New York Yankees director of player development Kevin Reese met with media last week ahead of opening day for the minor leagues, he mentioned how many in the organization pushed for outfield prospect Estevan Florial to begin the year in Triple-A with the RailRiders.

The 23-year-old is already on New York’s 40-man roster, played one game in the bigs in 2020 and was invited to both versions of the alternate site at PNC Field, where he impressed team officials.

He also, however, had never played above High A outside of his cup of coffee in New York, so the Yankees sent Florial to Double-A Somerset to start this season.

Nine games later, he’s coming up to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The Yankees promoted Florial to the RailRiders on Friday, after he got off to an 8-for-35 (.229) start at Somerset, including four home runs — each one leading off a game. He had a .936 OPS, but also struck out nine times and walked just four times. In addition, the RailRiders placed shortstop Kyle Holder on the seven-day injured list and sent catcher Max McDowell down to Double-A.

“Flo’s done a good job at the start of the season,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “He’s hit for some power in Double-A. He got a little bit of a late start with us in spring training, getting to camp late. But, I mean we’ve always loved the person and the tools and what we believe he could be. So, hopefully, now being healthy and getting regular at-bats and reps can continue to develop into the guy we think he can be.”

It’s also worth noting how New York outfielder Aaron Hicks‘ left wrist injury could play into Florial’s promotion.

Boone said Friday an MRI showed Hicks tore the sheath that holds the tendon in place in his wrist. For now, Boone said he’ll treat it with medicine, but surgery could be on the table. If the Yankees needed to place Hicks on the injured list and wanted some help from the minors, Florial is one of only two position players on the 40-man roster not in New York. The other, shortstop Oswald Peraza, is in High A with Hudson Valley.

Because of COVID-19 protocols in place, only players from Triple-A can be immediately summoned to the majors. Players at lower levels would have to go through intake testing. With Florial entering the Triple-A coronavirus testing regimen, he could be promoted to New York more easily than if he remained in Double-A.

In the meantime, he could provide a boost for the RailRiders, who lost outfielder Trey Amburgey to a leg injury earlier this week in addition to Holder being sidelined by a knee injury.

Boone also said reliever Zack Britton is slated to throw a sim game today, and if all goes well, he soon could head out on a minor league rehab assignment. Boone said the Yankees have “about five outings” planned for him in the minors. After Sunday’s series finale against Lehigh Valley, the RailRiders head to Rochester for a six-game slate.

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