Padres general manager AJ Preller has returned to what is looking like his favorite well, acquiring yet another top prospect from the Boston Red Sox. After receiving Manuel Margot, Javier Guerra, and Carlos Asuaje over the offseason for closer Craig Kimbrel, this time he picked up their top-ranked pitching prospect, Anderson Espinoza, in exchange for All-Star pitcher Drew Pomeranz. Just 18 years old, Espinoza was ranked the number 10 right-handed pitching prospect in the game by MLB before the season, when he was still 17, and has excelled since then.
Espinoza's calling card is his fastball, which Fangraphs rated a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. The slender 6'0" starter reaches triple digits with sink, and his mechanics are lauded. He also features a plus-curveball along with an average-at-worst changeup which is expected to develop nicely; the same is said of his command. ESPN's Keith Law ranked Espinoza as the number 38 prospect in all of baseball back in February, and MLB.com had him at 39. Baseball Prospectus wasn't as sure of him, ranking him number 73, but Baseball America was all in on Espinoza before the season, putting him down as the number 19 prospect overall.
Law released his midseason ranking of the top 50 prospects in baseball earlier today, and bumped Espinoza all the way up to number 14, and Baseball America now has him at number 15, as well as the Padres' new top prospect. Law's assessment was particularly encouraging, especially his nod of approval to a notable comparison which has been thrown around.
After splitting 15 games between the Dominican Summer League, Rookie, and A-ball last year, Espinoza has spent 2016 with Single-A Greenville, where he is 3.9 years younger than the average player. In 76 innings over 17 starts against more seasoned opponents, he has a 4.38 ERA and 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings to go with a walk rate of 3.2 and a WHIP of 1.368. Espinoza does have 11 wild pitches thus far, but has allowed only two home runs.