Bryan Torres watched the first two offerings from Midland Rockhounds reliever Wander Guante whiz by for called strikes.

Springfield enjoyed a 4-1 lead in the seventh inning on Friday night, thanks to Torres’ two-RBI single with two out in the second inning when he ambushed a first-pitch changeup and lined it into left-center field.

With a runner at first base, Torres was in an 0-2 hole in plate appearance No. 2,402 of his nine-year professional career. The pesky 5-foot-six lefthander fouled off the next two pitches from Guante, then smacked a 1-2 delivery deep to left field. Torres rounded first base and watched the ball clear the left field wall but land in the glove of Rockhounds left fielder Colby Thomas, who scaled the fence and robbed Torres of two-run homer.


“I wasn’t upset, I was impressed, he made a great play, you know?” Torres, Springfield’s leadoff hitter with a team-high .311 batting average but just 18 career home runs, said afterwards.

“It was my first (Double-A) homer, it’s incredible my first homer got robbed.”

The play was a turning point. Midland scored six times in the eighth inning and closed the door on a 9-4 victory that spoiled a gem from Cardinals’ starter Ian Bedell. Springfield (22-16) sits atop the Texas League North division and begins a six-game series at home against Tulsa tonight.

For the 26-year-old Torres, the disappointment was another small bit of adversity in a long career that’s had plenty.

“It’s an amazing story because he’s a guy that has shown that resilience – he doesn’t quit,” said Springfield manager Jose Leger. “I’m just proud and enjoying his journey right now. He said he’s going to play in the big leagues this year, so that’s a great thing.”

A catcher from Puerto Rico, Torres has played all nine positions in a baseball odyssey that began when he signed as an undrafted free agent with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2015 at age 17.  Torres spent three summers in the Dominican Summer League – an atypical assignment for a long-shot Puerto Rican player.

“He basically hit his way out of the island,” Leger said. “He got an opportunity to come here to the States and played a little bit, but he didn’t receive that much opportunity.”

Torres toiled at Rookie League stops in Helena, Montana, and Colorado Springs. He was released by the Giants organization in 2021 after he hit .280 in 43 games with the Richmond Flying Squirrels (Double-A), his future in doubt.

“I almost retired, man. And my family just, they just told me ‘Hey, go play’, he said. “That was my push to keep doing it…I think that was the toughest moment in my career.”

He caught on with the Milwaukee Milkmen of the independent American Association in 2022 and led the league with a .374 average against competition that included former big leaguers, like Cards’ playoff heroes Matt Adams and Pete Kozma (Kansas City Monarchs).

Torres went home for winter ball and represented his native island in the 2023 Caribbean Series in Venezuela, where he delivered late inning heroics.

Puerto Rico trailed Cuba 3-2 in the ninth inning when Torres hit a ground rule double that would have won the game; the tying run scored but the decisive run was sent back to third base when the ball stuck in the fence. The next batter was Emmanel Rivera, currently with the Miami Marlins, and he brought home the game winner.

“That’s one of the best moments, emotional moments in my career. There are a lot, man. I’ve been playing this a while, but that one – wearing the colors of my country – is one of the best ones.”

But an independent league batting title and strong showing in winter ball didn’t yield an affiliated contract for 2023, so Torres returned to Milwaukee and led the American Association again with a .370 average and 71 stolen bases last summer.

The Cardinals took notice and signed Torres in the fall. He spent the winter in good hands, playing in the Caribbean Series again, this time for manager Yadier Molina.

Torres has been as advertised: a reliably tough out at the top of the lineup and solid play in centerfield with versatility and a desire to contribute.

“If I need him to catch, he’ll catch,” Leger said. “The other day we were down a catcher and he said, ‘Hey, I can catch if you need me to.’”


Andy Carroll

Andy Carroll

Andy Carroll is a freelance sports writer living in the Ozarks with his wife and four great kids. He loves St. Louis, toasted ravioli and minor league baseball. You can follow him on Twitter @carroll_sgf and Instagram @andycarroll505