The next prospect in our MLB Draft profile series is right-handed pitcher Daniel Espino. He might have the most arm talent of anyone in the draft class, but he also has concerns about his mechanics.
6’2, 200 pounds
Position: Right-handed pitcher
DOB: Jan. 5, 2001 (Yep, we’re old)
Slot recommended bonus (No. 25): $2,740,300
Slot recommended bonus (No. 31): $2,312,000
Note: All information of draft prospects compiled from Internet sources, scouting reports and video.
In recent years, high school pitchers haven’t been as coveted by some teams as they have been in the past — including the Dodgers. Espino might be the most talented pitcher in this draft, but there’s a reason why — other than he’s a prep pitcher who throws hard — that he isn’t projected to go higher in the draft.
Espino has a legitimate 3-pitch mix, led by his fastball. It’s a mid-to-high-90s offering that has touched triple digits. Not only that, he works effectively up in the strike zone with it and can sink it when he throws the 2-seamer. He backs up his fastball with a low-80s slider with plenty of depth and tilt. He also has a power curveball in the high-70s that can miss bats. He also has a high-80s changeup that’s a work in progress, but has shown signs of being at least an average pitch.
Where things get dicey is with his mechanics. You’ll see it in the videos below, but let’s just say it’s not a typical delivery. The arm action isn’t great for not only repeatability, but also for long-term health. He has a long arm action and crossfire delivery, which could lead to potential command issues in the future. His pitches come out of a three-quarters arm slot, which helps him get some extra action on his pitches. The Dodgers have been pretty good recently about developing pitchers, and while Espino would be a bit of a project, there’s no way to teach his pure, raw stuff.
Videos courtesy of Prospect Pipeline and Prospects Live.
Something else that’s unclear is his actual size. Some have him listed as a 6’0, 200-pounder, while other say he’s close to 6’3/6’4. For this, I used the MLB Pipeline measurement of 6’2, which splits the difference. The Dodgers aren’t afraid of pitchers who don’t have prototypical size (hello, Walker Buehler), and in a lot of ways, he’s not a bad comp for Espino.
As a verbal commit to LSU, Espino should be signable at either No. 25 or 31. If the Dodgers want to take a shot at a prospect with one of the highest ceilings in the draft, Espino might be the kid to take.