I have to be honest, I have a really hard time following and writing about the NBA. Even when it is the Celtics. I’ve written a couple posts about them, but I’m just lack the same passion that I have for baseball. So, in response to this epiphany, I have decided to start a new weekly segment leading up to spring training focused on Red Sox prospects. These are some guys that Red Sox Nation should keep their eyes on in this spring and in the coming years. Because of all the hype Yoan Moncada has gotten since his signing I will skip him and save you the redundancy by simply saying: he is a really promising prospect. To lead off the series this week’s post will feature Venezuelan RHP Anderson Espinoza, who was recently rated the #39 on the 2016 MLB Top Prospect List.
The Red Sox signed the 16-year old Espinoza for $1.8 million in the summer of 2014. At the time he threw his fastball 90-92, with a decent slider and makings of a change-up. This past season at 17 years of age, his first as a professional in the United States, he was sitting 94-96 on the gun and touching 98. Pretty good for the equivalent of a junior in high school.
Espinoza has a wiry build at 6 feet tall and 170 pounds, but looks like natural athlete on the mound. From the windup he as a simple low leg rock with an ever-so-slight pause at the top before he break his hands. This simple, efficient motion helps him repeat his delivery well for someone his age. Up to this point in his life he has been able to rely heavily on his explosive fastball without much need for a secondary pitch, and had a thorough debut in Rookie and low Class-A ball last year to the tone of a combined 2.16 ERA in the 15 starts. The next step in his progression will be to put on some muscle, develop a feel for his change-up and, like every young pitcher, improve his command of all three pitches.
Red Sox fans should not expect Espinoza to debut at Fenway Park anytime soon. He needs to put on some muscle and develop a pitcher not just a thrower. He will likely need time in Class-A ball for a year, but even that may still keep him on pace to debut at Fenway before his first legal beer. Expect him to start the year in Greenville with the chance of promotion to Salem by the end of the season. Plans for Espinoza are long term because he is so young, but with a special talent like his the sky is the limit.