The Journal Gazette
Monday, July 18, 2016 1:04 am

Espinoza's TinCap debut set for Wednesday

Chris Goff | The Journal Gazette

Anderson Espinoza, the newest TinCap, is viewed as one of the best pitching prospects in the minor leagues.

And it was announced Sunday the 18-year-old right-hander, acquired Thursday by the San Diego Padres, will debut for Fort Wayne, the Padres' low-A affiliate, Wednesday at Wisconsin.

"I heard great things about the guy," said Jake Nix, who started Sunday for the TinCaps in an 8-6 loss to Cedar Rapids. "I heard he's a gamer, can throw with some feel, too."

Espinoza threw a bullpen session Sunday morning. TinCaps manager Anthony Contreras had said a decision on his next start would be made after that session, and the decision was to have him go sooner rather than later. Tuesday is an off day.

Last season, in rookie ball primarily, Espinoza had a 1.23 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 58 1/3 innings. He was the youngest pitcher this year in the South Atlantic League, where he pitched for Greenville, the Boston Red Sox low-A affiliate. In 17 starts there, he had a 4.38 ERA and allowed 77 hits and 27 walks in 76 innings.

But how high is his potential? Just consider the recent scouting report from ESPN's Keith Law.

"He'll be up to 99 mph but sits comfortably at 94-95 with both the changeup and curveball flashing plus, with the changeup being the better of the two pitches," Law wrote. "There aren't many comparisons for Espinoza because so few pitchers have done what he has done with this kind of stuff at 18. But the fact that Pedro Martinez comps aren't laughable is a pretty good indicator of what Espinoza could be."

Espinoza is now rated the top prospect in the Padres' farm system, and Baseball America has him 15th among all the minors.

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