Anderson Espinoza (RHP, Bos)
Scouting Trip: Lakewood New Jersey (Low-A). Greenville Drive vs. Lakewood Blue Claws
The Red Sox paid Anderson Espinoza a $1.8 million dollar signing bonus in July of 2014, a substantial amount for a 6-foot Latin pitcher. After dominating the DSL in 15 innings in 2014, the Red Sox brought the 17-year-old righty to the US last year and he dominated the Gulf Coast League in his 40 innings. He struck out 40, walked nine while only giving up four earned runs.
Building on his 2015 success, the Red Sox started him in Greenville (Low-A) and he’s held his own by striking out nearly 10 per nine and walking just over three per-nine; all while being one of the youngest players in the league.
Scouting Notes: Scouting games in the Northeast in April and early May can be tricky. The weather is very changeable and despite a high sun, my scouting of Espinoza was greeted with low 50’s temperature and a stiff cold wind. While that might not sound cold, trust me…it was and it affected Espinoza as well as the others playing.
Espinoza is a slight pitcher, standing 6-feet tall and only weighing 160 pounds. However, his arm strength is impressive and he easily hit 96 MPH in the early going. His fastball though sat for the majority of his outing in the 92 to 94 MPH range, only losing about a mile per hour from the first to the fourth inning. The pitch has a ton of late life and really jumps up on hitters with most everyone being late on the pitch throughout his outing.
He complements the fastball with a two different curve balls. A harder curve that sits 78 to 79 MPH and a slower variety (70 to 72) in which the Blue Claws had no chance. Both pitches will be real weapons once he learns to repeat his deliver better. I only saw him throw a handful of change-ups and it’s clearly his third pitch.
In general, his delivery is very easy and effortless. However, he doesn’t always repeat it well and can get out of sync. That happened in the fourth inning where he became flat out wild, walking several batters and hitting another. It was his ultimate undoing and caused him to leave the game early.
Even with the shorten outing, you could see what all the fuss is about. With two plus pitches and an easy delivery, it’s easy to throw a number two starter profile. However, I do worry about his size. He gets little plane on his pitches and while he has the velo to pitch up in the zone, I would like to see him develop a two-seamer to induce more ground balls. Given the athleticism I saw, I think that could very easily be in the cards.
Fantasy Impact: The ceiling for Espinosa is a number two starter in the mold of Blue Jay’s Marcus Stroman. Stroman has a much more solid base currently, but as Espinoza ages, he should put on weight that should only help him to log the necessary innings as a big league starter. One final word of caution for fantasy owners – Espinoza needs time to develop. He’s at least three years away from seeing the big leagues. The arm is special and he’s clearly advanced for his age, but he needs to work on repeating his delivery, developing a change-up and working down in the zone more. It’s all there though…just be patient.