Daniel Espino Offers More Than Elite Heat
How does first-round pick Daniel Espino’s fastball grade on the 20-80 scouting scale?
It’s a 90, according to a scout quoted by Baseball America.
"He’s extremely athletic on the mound,” scouting director Scott Barnsby. "He’s loose. He’s flexible. He’s got a power arm. We’ve seen him up to 100 (mph). He has special arm strength.”
The Indians selected the 18-year-old righthander out of Georgia Premier Academy with the 24th overall pick. A Louisiana State commit, Espino instead accepted a $2.5 million bonus from the Indians.
"There’s a lot to like about him. He’s a special kid,” Barnsby said.
A native of Panama, Espino and his family moved to Georgia during his sophomore year in high school. In nine starts in his senior season, he had an 0.32 ERA, allowing two earned runs on 10 hits in 44 innings, with 106 strikeouts and 10 walks.
At the Under Armour All-America Game last summer, Espino topped out at 99 mph, breaking Hunter Greene’s record for that game. Espino’s four-seamer has good riding action, augmenting a heavy, sinking two-seamer.
Like most high school pitchers, Espino's command is still a work in progress. Standing 6 feet tall, and with an unconventional arm action, Espino projects as a future reliever for some scouts—but Barnsby said the Indians aren’t in that camp.
"We view him as a starter with a four-pitch mix, who’s very athletic,” Barnsby said. "We see no reason why he can’t start. Some things he still needs to work on with his delivery, but you can say that about any high school pitcher.”
Espino also sees himself as a starter, but that doesn’t preclude him from viewing Hall of Fame closer—and fellow Panamanian—Mariano Rivera as his role model.
"He’s calm and with one pitch can control the game," Espino said. "Also, as a person, he’s very humble.”
Espino’s repertoire includes more than a triple-digit fastball.
"He has two different breaking balls. Both his slider and his curve have depth and finish, and an angled bite. Both have a chance to be plus,” Barnsby said. "He’s developing a feel for a changeup. Ethan Purser, our scout in Georgia, did an incredible job getting to know Daniel. He’s an exciting kid to be around.”