The Padres are in agreement with right-hander Anderson Espinoza on a minor league contract, reports Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The Friars have also agreed to non-roster pacts with outfielder Preston Tucker and reliever Drew Carlton, Sanders reports (Twitter link).
Espinoza returns to an organization where he spent a half-decade. Acquired from the Red Sox in the 2016 deadline deal that sent Drew Pomeranz to Boston, Espionza was regarded as a possible top-of-the-rotation starter at the time. Baseball America named him the #1 prospect in the San Diego system the following winter. Unfortunately, a series of injuries prevented the 6’0″ hurler from getting a chance to make good on that immense promise. Espinoza felt some elbow soreness at the start of the 2017 season, and he underwent Tommy John surgery. After two years of rehab, he suffered another elbow injury that required a second TJ procedure.
The successive surgeries cost him a staggering four years of game action, as he didn’t throw a single professional pitch from 2017-20. Midway through the ’21 campaign, San Diego dealt him to the Cubs for Jake Marisnick. Espinoza closed out the 2021 season in Double-A, but he briefly got to the majors for the first time this year.
Through seven relief appearances, he worked his first 18 1/3 MLB innings. He allowed 11 runs on 14 hits and a staggering 16 walks, and his work in the minors wasn’t much better. Between Chicago’s top two affiliates, Espinoza pitched to a 7.55 ERA in 70 1/3 frames. He fanned a decent 24.6% of opponents but walked a massive 13.9% of minor league batters faced. At year’s end, the Cubs placed him on waivers. He went unclaimed and qualified for minor league free agency.
Espinoza is certainly no longer regarded as an elite young talent, but there’s no harm for the Padres in rolling the dice to see if he can better hone his strike-throwing as he moves another year removed from the devastating series of injuries. He’s yet to turn 25 despite having been a well-known prospect for nearly a decade. The Venezuela native averaged just under 94 MPH on his fastball during his MLB work with the Cubs, relying on a low-80s breaking ball as his top secondary pitch.
Tucker, the older brother of Astros star Kyle Tucker, is a former Astros outfielder himself. He hit .222/.281/.403 in 221 MLB games with Houston, Atlanta and Cincinnati from 2015-18. After three seasons in South Korea, Tucker returned to the U.S. on a minor league deal with the Braves in May. The 32-year-old had a decent showing with their top affiliate in Gwinnett, hitting .267/.347/.426 in 75 games.
Carlton, 27, has made nine relief appearances with the Tigers over the past two seasons. The right-hander has allowed six runs in 12 1/3 career innings, striking out eight with four walks. The Florida State product doesn’t throw especially hard, sitting in the low 90s with his fastball. He’s shown excellent control throughout his minor league tenure, though, and he punched out an above-average 27.3% of opponents through 58 1/3 innings with Detroit’s top affiliate in Toledo this year. Owner of a 3.90 ERA in 110 2/3 innings at the top minor league level, he’ll presumably battle for a bullpen spot in Spring Training.
I love it. At 1230 am I hear that familiar ding notification on my phone. Yay I say. Let’s see. A signing ?
Yup. Ran over here for huge late night west coast signing 🙂
Haha, I’m late Ed but I know Preller is destroying his own farm system some way some how.
Anderson doesn’t care about the NHL NBA or NFL so he’s ok with SD
If you need all that to enjoy San Diego- I feel bad for you
San Diego is a beautiful city Tom. It was a joke referencing Trea Turner comments.
I’d never seriously diss SD , gorgeous city.
I just cant believe this kid is still only 25.
Yeah and its tough to see kids go through this. Especially since he was 18 in that Pomeranz trade. Hope he can stay healthy and get some relief work in. I always stole him from the Redsox farm system in my The Show Franchises back then.
After 4 years of not pitching its easy to see why he was so wild. It looks like he ran his fastball up to 97 during his short stint in the majors. Good luck to him.
4 years of not pitching, PLUS two TJ surgeries, might take a bit out of a guy. If he was averaging 94 MPH with the Cubs minors last year, that’s not bad if it moves and he has good secondary stuff. However, before the surgeries, he was running 98+ That essentially means that he needs to learn how to pitch all over again (which I’m sure the Cubs pitching coaches were working with him to do).
He’s clearly a project signing. Unlike someone like Jose Castillo who was just on the cusp of becoming an elite reliever, Anderson really never quite made it as the pitcher he had the potential to be. That’s probably lost forever. Just like Trevor Hoffman, who lost his FB after a beach football shoulder injury, Espinosa will have to reinvent himself. The change of scenery, and very different Padres pitching coach staff (from his last trip through the organization), should benefit him. I hope so. As I hear it, he’s really a good kid.
(Just checked on Castillo. He signed another 1 year contract, probably MiLB contract, so there’s still a chance he can break out and return to form. However, he’s yet another prospect turned suspect, due to the injury bug.)
Good luck to ’em both. The Padres could use the arms.
This kid is probably toast. What made him such a prized prospect half a decade ago was his ability to hit triple digits with his fastball. His control was always suspect. Now with 2 TJs he lost that speed and has even worse control. Even if he returns to his previous level he will still be far too wild. TJ is a weird surgery. I had it done about 15 years ago. Your arm definitely doesn’t feel the same with some movements feeling tight and some loose. I couldn’t imagine pitching after having that done. I guess it probably matters which way you have it done. I had a cadaver transplant. Still weirds me out to this day. Having a world class strength and conditioning department probably makes a huge difference as well. This kid having 2 and those being back to back I bet every movement he makes with that arm feels completely unnatural. Wish him luck but I doubt he ever shines again. MLB needs to adopt how Japanese teams approach pitching. They are a lot closer to the old way MLB used to handle them. Surprisingly enough they don’t have half the injuries MLB pitchers do.
Castillo was doing really well in minors last year, was strange that he didn’t get the call up
Agreed, if he can build towards using any combo of fastball, cutter, sinker in that 90s range with a off speed he can become a serviceable reliever.
Welcome back, Andy!! Go get ‘um next year, kid
Would be encouraging to see him get some work done in a foreign league. He’s likely going to waste the very limited time he’s been afforded proving himself. Worth a flier as is said
It’s a minor league contract, he’s not taking up space on the 40 man roster, so there’s no pressure to perform. The Padres could start him anywhere, including instructional league, if they thought it help him get off to a good start.
I think that they’ll do it right.
I get that but he’s still young I think he would experience more growth internationally meaning more instruction and quality playing time then the minors. Here most minor league systems are focused on prospects with high upside.
I think capitalizing on the strength and conditioning of a MLB team first then taking it to Asia may be better. Also never heard an interview, but being from Venezuela, not sure how his English is, it’d be pretty daunting going to Japan and communicating while also trying to build your arm back and working with the trainers there. I assume they have translators, but to dedicate extra personnel to a player at his stage might not be a priority of the organization over there
The guy the Red Sox fudged the medicals on?
Preller was the one suspended by Manfred for that trade… but yes, to answer your rhetorical question, same kid.
How many days did Anderson Espinoza spend on the IL after that trade?
Now how many days did Drew Pomeranz spend on the IL after that trade?
I could tell you, but your rhetorical reindeer games aren’t any fun. Happy Holidays LH, be good bruh
I wouldn’t say anything funny done with his medicals. Saw the kid throw 2 games in the FSL and in all my years.. best teenager can remember seeing. Ball exploded off his hand and curve was beautiful.
Games then often were played in main stadium and radar on.. I remember 1 game he was touching 99. This from an 18yo and batters had no chance.
Thing have mentioned here and other places before about his between innings routine caught my eye, was he always paced the dugout and shook his arm.. Yes.. It is possible it was bothering him as early as ’16, but sitting 97 and hitting 99?
Maybe Preller is a pantheist and liked his name.
Preston Tucker is such a versatile performer. He starred in F Troop.