Since Pedro Martinez, the Red Sox have not had a true ace in their rotation, or system for that matter, that could take the ball every fifth day, give you 200 innings and contend for a Cy Young Award. Recently, the Red Sox may have found that future guy.
And I'm not talking about David Price.
To a casual baseball fan, watching a Gulf Coast League game with 17-year-olds may be not only tedious, but downright boring. However, there is one kid in the Red Sox farm system that could excite even the biggest pink hat.
Meet Anderson Espinoza.
The 17-year-old signed his first professional contract in July of 2014 with the Red Sox as an international free agent.
Now this practice is nothing new, as the Red Sox sign Latin American youngsters regularly and hope to find a diamond in the rough.
However, Espinoza is different.
First, take a look at his scouting report, according to SoxProspects.com:
Slight of frame right-hander. Fastball sits in the mid-90s, topping out at 99 mph. He reaches that velocity with clean mechanics and a repeatable delivery, generating plus arm speed with loose arm action. He should be able hold velocity deeper into games as he fills out some. Shows great pitchability and feel for his age and features two good offspeed pitches. His curveball is a potential plus pitch, with tight spin and sharp bite at 71-73 mph. He also throws a changeup with some sink and shows good feel for the pitch. Doubled the record for a signing bonus given to a Venezuelan, set by Francisco Rodriguez in 1998.
In his first professional season with the Gulf Coast League Red Sox, Espinoza pitched 40 innings, with a 0.68 ERA and 40 strikeouts. Not bad, right? In fact, he was so good, Espinoza was called up to Class A Greenville for the playoffs.
Now his numbers are eye-popping, but it is important to remember that Espinoza is still a kid. We use that phrase regularly, but he can't even buy cigarettes yet. As the #3 ranked prospect in the Red Sox farm system at the age of 17, Espinoza is clearly going to be special.
At 6 feet, 170 pounds, he still needs to grow into his body. However, he is already able to throw 99 mph effortlessly and deep into games. If he can develop an above average secondary pitch, Espinoza has the potential to be one of the best pitchers in the game.
We may not see him for 2, 3, or maybe even 4 years in a Boston Red Sox uniform, and I don't like to give predictions on players, but this kid is on a crash course with stardom.
By Pete Packowski