Espinoza took the minors by storm in 2016, showing flashes of brilliance as an 18-year-old in the South Atlantic League. He was the Padres’ return that July in the deal that sent Drew Pomeranz to Boston, an indicate of how valuable a trade chip Espinoza was considered at the time. He missed the last two years with injury, though was back to throwing off a mound during Instructional League this fall. At full strength, Espinoza shows a high-90s fastball backed up by two quality off-speed pitches. His curveball can be a plus pitch and he shows advanced feel for a changeup.
Espinoza is a tough prospect to rank and grade given the time missed, and though he’s a plus athlete, there’s reason to wonder if his diminutive 6-foot frame will struggle to hold up under a starter’s workload. The best-case ceiling is a mid-rotation piece. Espinoza will re-establish himself as one of the top arms in the minors if his stuff comes out looking the same in 2019 and he stays healthy.