Making the Case for Paolo Espino

With the high turnover rate among the members of a bullpen, organizations like the Indians must continually find replacement arms to easily slide into a vacant spot when needed. For low-revenue teams in particular, they must have a high yield on arms from the farm system to compete for a postseason birth on a yearly basis. A perfect example would be the 2013 St. Louis Cardinals. While we can not predict who exactly will step forward, we can take a good guess. One pitcher I think has an excellent opportunity to help the bullpen next season is Paolo Espino.

When we investigate Espino’s career track, it reveals that he has spent the past four years splitting time between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus. This is not exactly a good thing being that he is 26 years old. While analyzing the numbers, however, we see a 26 year old who could be turning ripe at the right time. Espino struck out over a quarter of the batters he faced over eight starts and 62.0 innings for the latter club. This ended a very strong 2013 campaign which saw him log 141 IP while also striking out 141 batters between both levels. In addition to his high strikeout rate, he also posted low walk rates of 2.47 BB/9 in Columbus and 3.08 BB/9 in Akron. 

Here is video of Espino's mechanics, courtesy of Tony Lastoria at Indians Baseball Insider:

He has a repeatable delivery which explains his consistency in his minor-league career. It's tight, compact with excellent balance from the load through arm deceleration. This type of delivery is easily transferable to the major-league level. 

There is little video of Espino showcasing his repertoire. This one is from a scouts view: 

If you fast-forward to the 1 minute mark, we see Espino throw David Adams a 12-6, big sweeping curve ball which should have been strike three. After watching Adams' knees buckle on the pitch, I wanted to dig deeper as to why he has not seen action at the big-league level. I would guess that it has to do with not because of his secondary offerings but because his velocity grades out to a sub-par level. Although I could not find any scouting reports that speak of any velocity issues, I could not find any that praises it either.
The other concern with Espino is his age. At 26, dominating Triple-A and Double-A batters seems less impressive, considering the relative young age of his opposition. If there was ever a season to take advantage of, 2014 will be it.
Hopefully he can help an already thinning bullpen.
Mike Melaragno

About Mike Melaragno

A 2010 graduate of Lee University, Mike loves writes about the game he loves most-- baseball. From an early age, he learned to live and die with the Tribe-- mostly die. Died a little when they lost the 1997 World Series in extra innings; died a lot when they were one game away from advancing to the fall classic in 2007 but fell to the Red Sox in game seven of the ALCS. He currently resides in Northeast Ohio.