|August 18th, 2018
Espino’s high-90s fastball has been the talk of the showcase circuit this summer, and he has established himself as one of the top arms in next year’s class. He threw a few innings for the Nationals team in Long Beach before an electric one-inning performance a few days later in the Perfect Game All-American Classic. Espino was born in Panama and moved to the United States a few years ago.
A nice mix of present strength and future growth potential, Espino’s 6’3’’ and 200 pound frame is extremely athletic and flexible. He works from a slow-paced semi-windup, loading up on his backside through a tall leg kick before a powerful drive forward. The landing is closed and slightly cross-body, though it’s a low-maintenance overall operation that can make the small tweaks all young pitchers need to. Espino dialed the heater up to the 98-to-99 mph range airing it out in the PETCO game and sits in the mid-90s. He was 93-to-97 mph with his fastball in Long Beach, showing excellent life up in the zone and above-average tail when down. Espino stays around the plate with his fastball, and he’s enough of an athlete to continue projecting developments in his command. His primary off-speed pitch is a sharp low-80s slider with consistent bite and shape. Espino flashed a mid-80s changeup at Area Codes that showed promising dive, and wrinkled in a true curveball at 76 mph in San Diego with distinctly different tilt than the slider.
A plus athlete with the best fastball in the prep class and advanced secondaries, Espino checks all the boxes of a prospect who will enter the spring with first round buzz. Barring injury or something else unexpected, he should be in the conversation for 2019’s early picks next June.