Guardians right-hander Daniel Espino, ranked as one of top overall prospects in all of baseball, will be shut down from throwing for at least the next eight weeks after being diagnosed with a strain of his subscapularis in his right shoulder and a tear of the anterior capsule in that same shoulder, per the team. Cleveland also announced that 2022 first-round pick Chase DeLauter will miss at least four months due to a fracture in his left foot that required surgery last month. The outfielder suffered a different foot fracture last April while still playing at James Madison University.
Espino’s injury is the latest developmental setback for the 22-year-old righty, who ranks among the sport’s top 25 prospects at each of Baseball America, MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus. That’s due largely to an electric arsenal, headlined by an upper-90s heater that can reach triple digits, a plus slider and a pair of potentially average or better offerings in his changeup and curveball. Espino got out to a particularly brilliant start in 2022, posting a 2.45 ERA and striking out 35 of his 68 opponents in 18 1/3 innings through four starts.
Unfortunately for Espino, those four outings would be his only appearances of the season. He missed a couple months due to tendinitis in his knee, and he also battled shoulder troubles later in the summer. That same balky shoulder will now require a shutdown of roughly two months. A best-case scenario will see Espino resume throwing in late April, but even then, he’d need a fair bit of work before he was ready to pitch in a game setting. One would imagine he’ll be in line for a lengthier look in Double-A once he’s reached that point.
Espino was the No. 24 overall pick in the 2019 draft, but he’s managed only 156 1/3 professional innings to date thanks to last year’s injuries and the canceled 2020 minor league season. There’s still time for him to compile a fair number of innings in 2023, but it’s nevertheless discouraging for the organization and its fans that he’ll again begin the year sidelined due to health troubles.
As for DeLauter, he’s yet to even play in a professional game, thanks to that fractured foot last year, and he’ll now miss a substantial portion of the upcoming season after sustaining a new break. In a total of 66 NCAA games, DeLauter posted a comical .402/.520/.715 batting line with 15 home runs, 27 doubles, four triples, 24 steals (in 30 tries) and more walks (62) than strikeouts (45). Baseball America ranks him as the ninth-best prospect in a deep Guardians farm system.