Top San Diego Padres prospect Anderson Espinoza is scheduled to make his Midwest League debut in a road start for the Fort Wayne TinCaps tonight.
The right-handed pitcher will face the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, who will counter with RHP Jordan Yamamoto.
The Padres obtained Espinoza from the Boston Red Sox on Thursday, giving up left-handed pitcher Drew Pomeranz, who went 8-7 with a 2.47 ERA, 115 strikeouts and 41 walks in 102 innings (17 starts) for San Diego this season. Espinoza started this season in the South Atlantic League, going 5-8 with a 4.38 ERA, 72 strikeouts and 27 walks in 76 innings (17 starts) for the Greenville Drive.
Despite those numbers, Espinoza comes to the Padres organization highly touted by scouts and prospect rankers. Still only 18 years old, the Venezuela native was ranked fourth among Red Sox prospects in Baseball America‘s preseason rankings; last week Baseball America ranked him No. 1 among Padres prospects and No. 15 among all minor-league prospects (4th-best pitching prospect).
Here is part of what Baseball America said about Espinoza in its 2016 Prospect Handbook:
Espinoza’s precocious feel for a high-quality, three-pitch mix and efficient delivery are uncommon traits for a teen, to say the least. Despite his slight build, he generates striking velocity with an easy, repeatable delivery, while also featuring a curveball and a changeup that grade as big-league average now, with plenty of projection for improved command.
Espinoza has front-of-the-rotation talent and could reach the major leagues by 2018 if he stays healthy, Baseball America projected.
(Curious what ESPN’s Keith Law said about Espinoza? Read this story by The Journal Gazette‘s Chris Goff.)
Paddack keeps dealing for TinCaps
Right-hander Chris Paddack — another highly-touted pitching prospect recently acquired by the Padres — continues to impress in the Midwest League. He made his third start for the TinCaps on Monday, striking out eight while scattering three hits and two walks in five scoreless innings against the Cedar Rapids Kernels. In his three MWL starts, Paddack has a 0.64 ERA (one earned run in 14 innings) with 23 strikeouts and three walks.
Overall this season (including six starts in the South Atlantic League), Paddack is 2-0 with a 0.85 ERA, a 0.59 WHIP and 71 strikeouts in 42.1 innings. He has given up only 20 hits, five walks and four earned runs.
MWL teams among top merch sellers
Three Midwest League clubs are among the top 25 Minor League Baseball teams in licensed merchandise sales for 2015: the TinCaps, the Dayton Dragons and the South Bend Cubs.
Minor League Baseball released the list in alphabetical order, so I don’t know what the exact ranking of the three teams are, but you can see all 25 clubs here.
This also seems like the perfect time to share the first official photo of my daughter wearing Midwest League gear. Thanks to the TinCaps for sending her a welcome package!