JFtC Presents Our Blue Jays 2019 Top Prospects List With An Honourable Mention To Santiago Espinal
Santiago Espinal was acquired by the Blue Jays in a trade with the Red Sox back on Jun. 28, 2018. The deal included 1B/OF Steve Pearce and $1.5 million in cash going to Boston, in exchange for Espinal. Pearce ironically went on to becoming a very crucial player for the Red Sox, and was awarded the World Series MVP trophy for his performance in the Fall Classic.
Espinal was selected in the tenth round, 298 overall during the 2016 amateur player draft. He was then later assigned to the Red Sox in the Gulf Coast league. Where he appeared in 26 games, and recorded two doubles, ten RBI’s along with slashing his way to a .244/.330/.267/.597.
During the 2017 season was when Espinal’s stock started to grow through the Red Sox’s prospect system. He was promoted to low-A Greenville, and played in his first full-season in professional baseball. In 123 games, he produced four home runs, 46 RBI’s, 20 SB’s and hit for a much more improved line of .280/.334/.358/.692.
Espinal’s performance during that season earned him another promotion, this time it was up to high-A Salem. He appeared in 65 games before he was traded to the Blue Jays organization. The 24-year-old was riding a 15-game hitting streak at the time when he was acquired by the Blue Jays.
The Dominican-native was also off to his best start in his career before he was shipped off. During those 65 games with Salem, Espinal recorded three triples, seven home runs, 32 RBI’s, nine stolen bases and a slashing line of .313/.363/.477/.840.
After Espinal was sent to the Blue Jays organization, he was assigned to high-A Dunedin. He played in just 17 games before getting moved-up to double-A New Hampshire. In those 17 games with Dunedin, he hit two home runs, eight RBI’s and recorded a slash of .262/.333/.431/.764.
Those numbers put Espinal on pace to surpass what he produced with Salem in the 65 games that he appeared in. It was also his defensive flexibility that caught the eye of the Blue Jays’ scouts. He’s primarily been positioned at shortstop and second base throughout his minor-league career. But, he also has the capability to play at third base as well.
In the 42 games with New Hampshire last season, Espinal played 139 innings at second base, 103 at third and 93.2 at shortstop. What was most impressive about his defense last season was his 1.000 fielding percentage at second base. That number is impressive because it means of the 70 opportunities that he either made a play on, or assisted in, he performed perfectly on every play while positioned at second base.
Espinal’s fielding percentage at third base was .919%, and .946% at shortstop. Which shows that he’s capable of becoming a utility infielder, which a lot of scouts already project him to be. According to MLB.com, Espinal is considered to be an above-average defender.
They currently rank his fielding as a 55, and his arm strength at a 55 as well. However, his power is ranked as a 40, which is considered to be average. But, we’ve already seen that his defense is what has pushed him to already be at double-A in just two seasons in the minor leagues.
Espinal is expected to return to New Hampshire when 2019 gets underway. But, if he can continue performing effectively as a utility infielder at double-A, then it might not be long before he’s promoted to triple-A and eventually, to the majors as well.
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My name is Thomas Hall. I’m a former graduate of Sheridan College. I’ve been writing for just over 2 years. My most recent writing stint came at The Sporster. I’m also a massive sports fan, obviously baseball and the Blue Jays are No. 1 for me. But, football, basketball and hockey aren’t far behind.