The Toronto Blue Jays beat the New York Yankees, 4 to 2, in Spring Training action on Tuesday afternoon to improve to 10-6
With Cavan Biggio and Bo Bichette expected to get the bulk of the playing time at 2nd base and shortstop for the foreseeable future, the Toronto Blue Jays weren’t expecting the battle for the backup infielder spot to create much excitement. Mid-way through camp and that’s exactly what Santiago Espinal and Joe Panik are providing Blue Jays fans.
Santiago Espinal was acquired from the Boston Red Sox for Steve Pearce. Since joining the Blue Jays organization, Espinal has produced at each level and reached Triple-A in 2019. His performance forced the Blue Jays to add Espinal to the 40-man roster this offseason rather than lose the 25-yr-old infielder in the Rule 5 Draft.
A snippet from Baseball Savant Scouting Report:
Espinal has a collection of mostly average-or-better tools despite being somewhat undersized at 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds. He has good bat speed from the right side of the plate that allows him to make plenty of hard, line-drive contact across the entire field. He’s grown into some power since becoming a pro, showing some occasional over-the-fence pop, though he’s likely to tally more doubles and triples at the highest level. (full page)
On Tuesday, March 10th, Santiago Espinal padded his already impressive spring stats with another solid outing. Espinal replaced Joe Panik at short and went deep in his only at-bat, driving in a pair of runs. He’s now batting a healthy .350 with 7 hits in 20 at-bats. He has two doubles, a triple, two home runs, and four RBI. He’s walked twice and struck out 6 times for a .409OBP and 1.259OPS in 11 contests.
Signed to a minor league contract this offseason, Joe Panik was brought in to provide Buffalo with some veteran infield depth. However, those who cover the club felt it was just a matter of time before Panik worked his way onto the 40-man roster. With his strong performance this spring, Blue Jays fans are already expecting Panik to be the 2020 version of the 2019 Eric Sogard.
Mid-way through Spring Training and the former San Francisco Giant appears well on his way to accomplishing these high expectations. Since making his Major Leauge debut, Panik has played over 640 games at 2nd base. However, he will be asked to play SS if he makes the club out. A position he hasn’t played since 2014. While in the minors, Panik made over 200 starts as a shortstop and has looked very capable this spring.
Panik started at SS on Tuesday. He went 1-for-3 with a run scored, a triple, and a strikeout. In 9 games, Panik owns a .368BA (7-for-19) with 6 runs scored, a triple, a pair of home runs, and 5 runs batted in. He’s walked four times and struck out three times for a .458OBP and 1.248OPS.
Despite not currently being in possession of a 40-man roster, Panik will most certainly secure his spot before Opening Day. Unfortunately, the Blue Jays will need to part ways with someone in order to add Panik. Several names are being thrown around as possible DFA candidates. The other option is to move Ryan Borucki to the 60-day IL which will open up a spot for Panik.
Santiago Espinal will head to Triple-A Buffalo to anchor the Herd’s middle infield. However, the impression Espinal has made this Spring has earned him a callup if the Blue Jays lose any position player, not including catcher, to injury.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of R.Mueller
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