Counting down from 30, the Jays Journal has your top 30 Blue Jays prospects this year, including who we’ve ranked at #27, Santiago Espinal
2019 Org Level: Started in AA New Hampshire, finished in AAA Buffalo
Santiago Espinal began his professional career in the Boston Red Sox organization, selected in the 10th round of the 2016 Amateur draft out of Miami-Dade College in Florida.
He would advance as far as Class A+ ball with the Red Sox farm system before being traded to the Blue Jays organization on June 28, 2018, with veteran and eventual World Series MVP Steve Pearce heading the opposite way.
From there, Espinal would spend half a month in the Blue Jays Class A+ division before being called up to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in AA ball, where he would finish the season. In 2019, Espinal would return to the Fisher Cats, but would see an eventual call up to AAA ball in early August, where he was able to put up some pretty outstanding stats in a short amount of time.
In just 28 games with the Bisons, Espinal would slash .317/.360/.433 with two home runs and 14 RBI, while also collecting two stolen bases and seven walks in just 104 at-bats. Through the entire 2019 season (both AA and AAA), the Dominican Republic native would collect an impressive .287/.347/.393 line with 27 doubles, seven home runs, and 71 RBI’s.
Santiago Espinal is an intriguing prospect given his height and stature. While he is on the smaller side at 5’10, Espinal is still able to drive the ball into the outfield with hard contact.
He does not possess home run power you may find with other prospects, but he still is able to put doubles and even a triple or two given his above average speed on the bases mixed with the hard contact.
Watching video of Epsinal in the box, he has a Josh Donaldson/Jose Bautista type of leg kick that most likely drives hitting coaches mental, but his slash line proves that his methods are working as of right now. His quick hands through the box allow him to get more power on the ball, but the smaller size has him trending towards more of a line drive type of hitter than a home run hitting power guy (as mentioned earlier).
Given he is already 25 years old, the growing period for Espinal is most likely over, but he is still able to use his smaller frame to put the ball in play and finds himself with above-average tools when at the plate.
Given his quick feet, he is able to get to the ball when playing up the middle at either second base or shortstop and does possess an above-average arm to help him get the more difficult outs at first.
His stat line does show that he has a few errors each season, bringing the fielding percentage down, which could be concerning since the ball only gets hit harder and harder the further you climb the farm system ladder.
Given that he has been put in various positions around the diamond, as well as some reps in the outfield, the fielding percentage may be set aside given he is more suited for the utility type of player moving forward.
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When looking at various scouting sources and reports, it appears that everyone is on the Santiago Espinal utility hype train, which is probably what will get him to the Show. At 25 years old, Espinal is quickly running out of years to truly be considered a prospect, and may be suited for a bench role where he can be used in various positions within the infield as utility player.
His hitting and fielding scouting grades are both ranked at 55 by Baseball Savant, but his overall power ranks lower at 35, bringing his overall down to 40.
This upcoming Spring Training could be interesting for Espinal, as he enters the 2020 season as an outside shot to making the roster given his utility aspirations and the added 26th roster spot on major league clubs. He does have some stiff competition both internally and from spring training invites, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Espinal does find himself with the Bisons to begin the 2020 season even if he has a stellar spring training.
He is a prime candidate to be a replacement call-up if any infield player finds themselves on the Injured List at some point in the season, but if he can continue to produce a slash line like he did in 2019 and continues to play stellar defence, he could force the Blue Jays management to give him a bigger look moving forward.