Join Jays From the Couch as we highlight the 2019 season of New Hampshire’s Santiago Espinal and Bluefield’s Steward Berroa and D.J. Daniels
INF Santiago Espinal
This former 10th round selection had himself a banner year in 2019. He put up some nice numbers, reached Triple-A, and is now a proud owner of a 40-man roster spot. Acquired for Steve Pearce from the Boston Red Sox on June 28th, 2018, Espinal played 94 games with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats in 2019. He was named to the Post-Season All-Star team and was recognized as Player of the Week on May 21st.
Espinal batted .279 with 6 doubles, a home run, and a .717OPS in April (21GP). His numbers slipped in April (26GP) with a .260BA and .636OPS but bounced back in June (22GP) with a .279B 5 doubles, a triple, two HR, and a .771OPS. His best month came in July (23GP) when he posted a .293BA with 7 doubles, and a .757OPS.
On August 3rd Espinal moved up to Triple-A to join the Buffalo Bisons. He went 0-for-15 over his first 4 games, getting his 1st Triple-A hit on August 9th with an RBI double. He would collect at least a hit in each of his next 10 games, finishing with a .313BA, 5 doubles, 2HR, and a .780OPS in August (26GP).
Back to his Double-A success, Espinal finished with a .278BA. He collected 21 doubles, a triple, and 5 home runs while scoring 46 runs and driving in 57 RBI. He didn’t do a great job stealing bases with 10 steals and 11 caught stealing. His production was slightly above league average with a .331wOBA and 115wRC+ while posting a .104ISO and .310BABIP.
His plate discipline remains consistent with his 2018 numbers, positing a 8.6BB% and 12.2K% in 20198 after posting a 8.5BB% and 13.4K% in 2018. His numbers suffered in his one-month Triple-A audition, posting a 6.3BB% and 20.5K%.
The native of Santiago, Dominican Republic had most of his at-bats batting 2nd where he produced a .284BA with a .366OBP and a .756OPS. The 5-foot-10 infielder produced a 1.8% HR/FB with a 41.4FB% and 36.3GB% but finished with an impressive 22.3LD%. Espinal pulls the ball 48.9% of the time. He only sent the ball to the opposite field 29.5% and up the middle 21.6%. In Buffalo, Santiago finished with a 35.0LD%, 35.0GB%, and 30.0FB% while pulling the 51.9% of the time.
In the field, Santiago Espinal made 52 starts at 2B with the Fisher Cats and 18 with the Herd, committing a total of 7 errors. Espinal made 22 starts at SS with NH and 11 with Buffalo, committing another 7 errors. He made the first starts in the outfield, marking the first time he’s played in the outfield since being drafted. He made 12 starts in CF at AA with no errors and 2 outfield assists.
Home: .273BA with 14 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 19RBI, and a .708OPS
Away: .282BA with 7 2B, 1 3B, 5HR, 38RBI, and 738OPS
LHP: .278/.358/.380 (108AB)
Most Productive Game
On May 10th, Santiago Espinal collected a season-high 8 total bases. He went 4-for-6 with a run scored, a double, a home run, 5 runs batted in, and a strikeout. The 4 hits and 5RBI were also a season-high. He scored 3 runs along with a season-high 3BB on July 6th, going 1-for-2 with a double and an RBI for a close 2nd.
The 25-yr-old should play with the Buffalo Bisons in 2019. Since he was just added to the 40-man roster he has all three minor options versus Richard Urena who does not. I’d like to see him get more time in CF to further add to his toolbox. At this point, Espinal has a chance to fill a vital bench role with the Blue Jays.
OF Steward Berroa
Steward Berroa was signed on July 4th, 2016 out of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He made his professional debut with the DSL Blue Jays in 2017, posting a .261 batting average with 3 doubles, 7 triples, a HR, and 20SB in 54 games. He only played 39 games the next year with the GCL Blue Jays but finished with a .282BA, 9 doubles, a triple, and 17SB.
In 2019, Berroa played 50 games with the Bluefield Blue Jays. He batted just .161 in 9 games in June, bouncing back in July with a .304BA while collecting 4 doubles, a triple, a HR, and 7SB in 22 games. He struggled in August, batting just .197 with a double, a HR, and 4SB in 19 games.
Overall, Berroa finished with just 14SB while batting .236 and collecting 7 doubles, a triple, and 2HR. He produced a decent .325wOBA with a league-average 97wRC+ while posting a .093IOS and .343BABIP.
The 5-foot-10 outfielder spent the major of the year at the bottom of Bluefield’s batting order, batting 9th 36 times and leadoff 9 times. He posted a nice 14.8BB% and a not so nice 28.6K% for a 0.52BB/K. He finished with a 0.91GB/FB while spraying balls all over the field with 36.1Pull% and 40.7Oppo%.
In the field, Berroa split his time playing CF (25GP) and RF (23GP) with a pair of games in LF and one at 2B. He committed 5 outfield errors and registers 5 assists.
Home: .260BA with 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 6RBI, and .743OPS
Away: .216BA with 5 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 7RBI, and .624OPS
LHP: .205/.271/.227 (44AB)
Most Productive Game
On July 28th, Steward Berroa went 2-for-5 with a run scored, a HR, 2RBI, and a walk for a season-high 5 total bases. He drove in 3RBI once (July 10th), scored 2 runs once (August 21st), and had 3 hits in a game once (July 14th).
Rule V eligible in 2020, Berroa can expect to play in Vancouver in 2020 with a chance at getting a taste of full-season A-Ball with Lansing. He currently profiles as an organization guy.
OF D.J. Daniels
Over the years, the Blue Jays have drafted a bunch of D.J. Daniels types. These picks are loaded with raw talent and projected to be slow developing prospects. Unfortunately, for the Blue Jays, many of these guys don’t pan out. In recent years, Anthony Alford, D.J. Davis would be the most notables with Reggie Pruitt and D.J. Neal showing some promise several seasons after being drafted.
D.J. Daniels is a former 6th round selection from the 2016 Draft. He spent two seasons with the GCL Blue Jays batting .100 (36GP) in 2016 and .157 (44GP) in 2017. His batting average soared to .184 (42GP) in 2018 with the Bluefield Blue Jays. Unfortunately, he remained in Bluefield for the 2019 season, seeing some slight improvements.
Daniels struggled in June and July, batting .165 with 4 doubles and 4HR in 24 games while striking out 36 times. He seemed to turn a corner with an impressive August. A month which saw him bat .271 with 5 doubles, a triple, 3 home runs, and a .901OPS in 17 games.
Overall, D.J. Daniels posted a .210BA while setting career-high marks with 9 doubles, 7 home runs, 21 RBI, 12 walks, 63K, 18 runs scored, and a .723OPS. He posted a .321wOBA and 95wRC+ with an impressive .232ISO and .319BABIP.
The 21-yr-old finished with a 7.8BB% and an UGLY 41.2K% for a gross 0.19BB/K. His BB% actually improved from the 6.0BB% he posted in 2018 and 5.1BB% his posted in 2017. His K% rose from 35.8% in 2018. D.J.’s balls in play were mostly hit in the air with 44.6% resulting in flyballs while groundballs attributed for 32.4%. He posted a nice 23.0LD% which was an improvement over his previous high of 19.5LD% from last season. As you’d imagine, Daniels is an extreme pull hitter, pulling 54.0%.
D.J. Daniels found himself batting in the bottom of the order, spending most of his time batting 8th (22GP). In the field, the 6-foot-3 outfielder primarily played RF (26GP) and LF (9GP) with a single game in CF. He committed two errors with zero outfield assists.
Home: .180BA with 3 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 6RBI, and .576OPS
Away: .227BA with 6 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 15RBI, and .807OPS
LHP: .125/.205/.250 (40AB)
Most Productive Game
On August 2nd, D.J. Daniels collected 10 total bases, a season-high, going 3-for-4 with two runs scored, a double, two home runs, and 4RBI. He has one other 3 hit game and scored 3 runs once. Amazingly, D.J. walked 4 times on August 28th which accounted for a quarter of his total walks.
D.J. Daniels will be Rule 5 eligible at the end of next season; however, he is not at risk of being selected and will not be added to the 40-man roster. Despite his so-so numbers in 2019, I could see Daniels begin the season in Extended Spring Training with a cup of coffee with the Lugnuts before settling in with the Vancouver Canadians after the Draft.
Featured image credit: R.Mueller
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