Kody Clawson | May 30th, 2019
- Height: 6’2
- Weight: 200 lbs
- Age: 18
- Grades (according to MLB Pipeline): Fastball: 70, Curveball: 55, Slider: 60, Changeup: 50, Control: 50, Overall: 50
Daniel Espino is originally from Panama, but his family moved here to the United States in 2016 to provide better opportunities for Espino, not only for baseball but for education as well. After entering the Georgia Premier Academy, the trainers gave Espino a routine to help him develop his athleticism and body strength, allowing his mid-eighties fastball to develop into a pitch that sits 94 to 97 and touch up to 100 in some starts. Overall, he seems to have developed into an incredible pitcher and the best prep pitcher in the draft this year.
That fastball is his bread and butter. I’ve seen grades everywhere from 70 to 90 on the 20-80 grade scale. While the 90 grade is a bit facetious, there are several scouts that say this is one of the best fastballs that they’ve seen as far as pure potential. As I’ve said before, it sits 94 to 97, can touch the upper 90s, and maybe get to 100 on some scouts’ guns. The slider sits mid-80s and gets easy outs, having a late break and bite. The stuff just makes high school hitters look beyond foolish. He also has a good, but slow, curveball that goes in the upper 70s and a changeup that is below average now but can flash average.
Espino is a tremendous athlete and is a hard worker. He seems to be a high-character guy, especially for an eighteen-year-old kid. These factors make scouts feel like he will be able to work through any struggles he has and any flaws that come up in his game.
There is a concern with his fastball command. There are times where he is missing his spots, and while he doesn’t walk many batters right now, he does have trouble getting deep into counts and having to work hard to get them out. His athleticism and work ethic seem to point to his ability to develop future command, but it’s something he’s definitely going to have to work on. His big, athletic frame has little projection left, but with his stuff already pretty well developed, he doesn’t really need to project too much more than where he is now.
Espino is the epitome of a first-round prep pitcher. He has the fastball and the secondaries to really carve out a great career in the majors and even be a front-of-the-rotation starter. It will be interesting to see just where he goes since MLB teams have been scared off of prep pitchers that throw as hard as Espino does with the recent track record of high first-round prep pitchers having less than stellar returns. He could be seen as a high risk-high-reward pick, and it would take a team with a good history of drafting and developing high school pitching to take him in the first round.
Draft Prediction: Pittsburgh Pirates – Round 1, Pick 18
After writing the words “needs to go to a team that can develop high school pitchers” earlier, I really wanted to stick him with San Francisco at number ten overall, but the Giants have been tied to college players mostly, especially at that spot. The Pirates have gone after prep righties before, and this seems to be the best fit.
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