Despite being on the 2018 Eastern League Double-A Championship team, posting a combined splits of .287/.347/.393 over two levels of baseball in 2019, Espinal was still not considered a Top 30 prospect in the organization by MLB.com going into the 2020 season. Due to the 2020 Pandemic a summer time training camp was taking place to get a shortened Major League Baseball season started in late July. Espinal continued to impress Blue Jays management and made the 26-man roster as the utility infielder.
Santiago Espinal quietly progressed through the Blue Jays’ minor league system and knocked down the door to become an everyday regular.
During the shortened season, Espinal would get into 26 games, starting 18 games at shortstop posting a .975 fielding percentage at the position, and even pitched in two games (we don’t need to be seeing that anymore). Espinal struggled at the plate to start the season as he went just 5-30 (.167) through his first 13 games, but turned it around over the last month, which included a six game hitting streak to end the season to finish with a slash line of .267/.308/.333.
Becoming a Regular
Espinal spent the majority of the 2021 season again as the utility infielder for the Blue Jays and seized opportunities that came his way due to injuries to other members of the club. Espinal would get 62 starts at third base, but thanks to the dynamic duo of Bichette and Marcus Semien, he would not see any other time on the infield. Espinal proved to be very capable at the hot corner as he had a .980 fielding percentage in 196 opportunities. Espinal was equally as good at the plate as he went 69 for 222 (.311), while having a nearly 1:1 walk to strikeout rate, which left him with every opportunity to compete with Biggio for the everyday second base job for the 2022 season.
To begin this season it appeared as though Biggio would get the starts against right-handed pitchers and Espinal against left-handed pitchers. However, after a Spring Training that saw Espinal go 10-32 with five extra-base hits and the struggles of Biggio at the plate, Espinal had taken the top spot as the everyday second basemen.
Through the first 16 games of the season, Espinal has started 12 of them at second base, while also getting one start at third base. He has yet to make an error on the field and has already equaled his home run total from 2021 after hitting a pair this past weekend against the Houston Astros.
Espinal has turned himself from a depth minor league piece acquired for a World Series MVP into a key contributor for the 2022 Blue Jays and beyond.