The author of one of the greatest pitching performances in the history of the New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series has taken the next step towards getting to do it on the biggest stage of them all.
Daniel Espino, who was electric at the 2018 International Week at Camelback Ranch with a then-record seven strikeouts, was named to the Cleveland Guardians 40-man roster on Tuesday just prior to the deadline for protecting prospects who would be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. Espino joins fellow 2018 IW pitcher Adam Macko in being added to their team’s respective 40-man rosters, as Macko, who was teammates with Espino on the World Team that year, was given the bump by the Toronto Blue Jays.
As for Espino, he was signed for $2.4 million as the No. 24 overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, and quickly established himself as the top pitching prospect in Cleveland’s system. Unfortunately, injuries have limited his ascension, as he’s thrown just 133 2/3 professional innings, and was limited to just 18 1/3 frames with Double-A Akron last year before ultimately being shut down at the end of April.
Now 22, the personable Panama native underwent shoulder surgery in early May, which was set to sideline him for a reported 12-14 months at the time. The owner of a whopping 221 strikeouts in those 133 2/3 innings, Espino is likely to make his highly-anticipated return sometime around the All-Star Break in 2024, but it would seem unrealistic to think he could contribute at the big league level until the following year.
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