The MLB released its updated Top 100 Prospects list for the month of May on Sunday.
And, needless to say, Guardians fans will be very excited.
Pitcher Daniel Espino, Clevelands’ top prospect, catapulted 38 spots in the latest edition.
Not only that, Espino is now knocking on the door of the top ten, moving from 49 to 11.
It’s an exciting recognition and a well-earned one, too.
Espino has been absolutely electric with Akron and could be well on his way to developing into the next jewel in Cleveland’s pitching crown.
While I could go on all day about how excellent Espino’s season in AA has been so far, I’ll let the experts at MLB.com explain their rationale:
“The new No. 11 overall prospect is our biggest jumper in this group. Guardians right-hander Daniel Espino moved 38 spots up from No. 49 after showing some of the best stuff in the Minors at Double-A Akron with a triple-digit heater and low-90s (you read that right) slider. The 21-year-old fanned 35 in 18 1/3 innings before hitting the IL with a knee injury.”
With the move, Espino leapfrogs Shane Baz, Corbin Carroll, and Jack Leiter, who all help round out the top 15.
In fact, Espino is the second-highest ranked righty on that list, behind only Baltimore’s Grayson Rodriguez, who is slotted third overall.
AA DIGS Leaders
1. Daniel Espino #ForTheLand
2. Eury Perez #MakeItMiami
3. Chase Silseth #GoHalos
4. Reese Olson #DetroitRoots
5. Sean Burke #ChangeTheGame
6. Ken Waldichuk #RepBX
7. Joey Cantillo #ForTheLand
8. Taj Bradley #RaysUp
9. Brayan Bello #DirtyWater
— Pitcher DIGS (@DigsPitcher) May 22, 2022
Over his last four appearances, not only does Espino have 35 strikeouts, but his ERA is a low 2.45 and WHIP a minute .71.
Plain and simple, Espino has been dealing.
The knee injury is worth keeping an eye on, considering it’s sidelined him for nearly a month now.
But assuming he comes back healthy, he should have a good shot at springboarding up the minors.
By next season, we might even get to see him in a Guardians jersey.
The bad news: Cleveland has a rough track record hanging on to elite pitching talent.
The good news: Cleveland usually is able to develop and get a few strong seasons out of said pitching talent before they depart.
Corey Kluber, Mike Clevinger, Carlos Carrasco, Cliff Lee, C.C. Sabathia, Shane Bieber.
This is the legacy that Espino is entering.
Pair him with pitching coach slash Cy Young whisperer Carl Willis, and Espino might very well become Cleveland’s next great ace.
His arrival to the big leagues could also extend the careers of someone like Shane Bieber, who could be asked to handle less responsibility if surrounded by premier talent.
All the @CleGuardians prospects on the updated @MLBPipeline top 100 prospect list:
11) RHP Daniel Espino
43) OF George Valera
69) SS Gabriel Arias
78) SS Brayan Rocchio
80) SS Tyler Freeman#ForTheLand
— Guardians Nation™ (@GuardsNation) May 23, 2022
Between Espino and Gavin Williams, who is Cleveland’s seventh-ranked prospect, the pitching future of this team is bright.
Keep that hope in mind, Guardians fans.
The team is currently limping through its season, having coughed up another loss Tuesday, this time against the Astros.
Pitcher Zach Plesac was gashed for seven runs, a far cry from the highs we just read about with Espino.
Hopefully, by the time Espino and Williams are throwing for the Guardians, Plesac will be a day four starter.
Preferably for another team.
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