Padres’ Espinoza Displaying Eagerness to Return to Action

Credit: sports Illustrated

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Credit: MiLB

A healthy Anderson Espinoza just adds to the ridiculous amount of talent in the San Diego Padres farm system. He should emerge in 2019 as he is highly motivated to become a great pitcher in the game of baseball.

Anderson Espinoza, the soon to be 21 year old (March 9) entered camp this year on a mission.

After a meteoric rise in the Red Sox’ system from his initial signing in 2015 thru the 2016 MLB trade deadline, when he was traded to the San Diego Padres, he hit the proverbial injury wall.

He started off the 2017 season on the disabled list with a right forearm injury. The injury lingered through rehab, until July 28th when he was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament that has put him on the shelf indefinitely.

The plan to start the 2019 season is very much like what the Padres instituted with RHP Chris Paddack last year, coming off of Tommy John surgery himself. Paddack was limited by the team with a pitch count per start not to exceed 85 pitches per outing. This helped him become more economical with his pitch usage and understanding of how to “pitch” and not throw. This type of expierence would benefit the younger and less experienced Espinoza.

Anderson Espinoza has pitched a whopping 166 innings in his professional career. With all of those innings coming between Rookie League or Low A ball. Now as a comparison, Paddack was able to capture a total of 90 innings pitched last year with his limited pitch count which would still be a substantial win in the eyes of the player and organization.  Espinoza has one goal this season, which is to stay on the field and get experience. As tremendously talented as Espinoza is, he hasn’t thrown competitive innings in over two years.  Nobody knows if he has the same type of top prospect stuff that had him at the mountain top of prospect lists upon his arrival in San Diego in 2016.

Credit: AP Photo

The scouting report before Espinoza’s injury reported that he possessed three above average, to plus pitches. He could bump triple digits with his fastball in small spurts but during a start would sit 94-97 mph with late movement. His changeup has fastball like arm action and great depth and sinking action to it. His curveball, while having the potential to be a plus pitch, lags behind the other two options. Though when the pitch is on, it is a true 12-6 hammer that reminds you of those family holidays with “Uncle Charlie.”

When you have the ability to throw in the mid to high 90’s while throwing two above average to plus breaking balls, you have the ability to pitch at the front of a major league rotation.

In terms of pure stuff, there are few who can match his arsenal throughout all of the minor leagues. Incurring TJ surgery nowadays is not a death wish for pitchers like it used to be 20+ years ago.  Nowadays, players are coming back stronger than ever after surgery and rehab. Many times even showing an increase in velocity due to the veracity of the rehab schedule.

His ability to stay on the field and get repetitions with all of his pitches was key in showing the team it was worth it to use a valuable 40 man roster spot on him this last offseason.  I, for one, believe in this young player who was once compared to a young Pedro Martinez while coming up in the Red Sox system.  If he can become half the pitcher Pedro was, the Padres will have another future stud. An example of yet more hot talent lava flowing at Petco Park.

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