Toronto Blue Jays Top-30 prospects #16: Jose Espada
Blue Jays pitching prospect Jose Espada is new to the Toronto prospect scene, but his upside on the mound is already inspiring some excitement.
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Right-handed pitching prospect Jose Espada is a bit of an unknown to this point. Having just been drafted in the 5th round in 2015, Espada was viewed as an athletic project arm that popped up late in the pre-draft process.
Coming into the draft, the state of his raw ‘stuff’ was not considered his strong point, but scouts had plenty to say on his feel for pitching as well as his competitive nature.
Name: Jose Espada
Position: P Age: 18
Height: 6’o” Age: 170 lbs.
Throws: Right Bats: Right
Acquired: Round 5 draft pick (2015)
While doesn’t have the long and lean body of most of the Blue Jays recent drafted pitchers (think Aaron Sanchez), he isn’t exactly Stroman-short at six feet tall. He could use a bit more bulk on his frame (as he currently sits at only 170 lbs.), but he is only 18 years old and has plenty of time to fill out.
His first pro season, playing for the Gulf Cost League Blue Jays, was quite the eye-opener for those who were not aware of his abilities.
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Through his 10 appearances (7 starts), he accumulated 34.1 innings. He ended up with a 3.41 ERA (3.34 FIP for those who are wondering) and a tidy 0.961 WHIP. And his peripherals definitely back up those numbers.
Using his fastball, which has recently been clocked as high as 93 mph, and a developing curveball, he put up a K/9 of 8.13 to go along with surprising control for his age and a BB/9 of 2.10 .
While his low amount of runs allowed could have a lot to do with his low BABIP of .234 over a very small sample size, his numbers (like his K’s and BB’s) should not be dismissed at this stage in his development.
Following his successful first stint in pro ball, he joined Gigantes de Carolina in the Puerto Rican Winter League.
In an extremely small sample size of just 3.0 innings, however, there’s not much use looking too far into the numbers. But he still managed to strike out three batters in his 3.0 innings despite walking four.
So with a fantastic debut in rookie ball, and a not so memorable short stint in winter ball, Espada is exactly what I dubbed him before, a large unknown. But one with the potential that has justified his fifth-round draft slot that surprised many at the time.
With a smaller body (for now) he may end up as a relief pitcher in the Majors (don’t forget we all said that about Marcus Stroman as well). This is something we’ll get a better handle on as he physically matures through his next two seasons and stretches out, hopefully developing a strong arsenal of secondary pitches along the way.
But if he can put together another fantastic season next year, he very well could put himself in a position to become a starting pitcher to watch in this syetem, and could easily jump up the prospect lists to become one of the Toronto Blue Jays top pitching prospects.