Daniel Espino

22-Year-Old PitcherP
Cleveland Guardians AA
60-Day IL
Injury Shoulder
Est. Return 7/1/2024
2023 Fantasy Outlook
When Espino was first shut down after making four April starts at Double-A, it was reported that he was dealing with patellar tendinitis. However, he didn't return at all last season, and that was because his shoulder started barking. One of the most talented pitching prospects in the minors, Espino is now more of a second-tier pitching prospect due to his inability to build up his workload and this newly introduced injury risk. Skills wise, there was little to quibble with pre-injury. The 6-foot-2 righty had a 45.6 K-BB% and 0.71 WHIP prior to getting shut down, and he could catapult himself back into the top tier of pitching prospects once he shows he is healthy and his stuff is intact. He turns 22 in January and doesn't need to be added to the 40-man roster until after the season, so Cleveland probably won't rush him to the majors in 2023, especially given their impressive rotation depth. Read Past Outlooks
RANKSFrom Preseason
$Signed a $2.5 million contract with the Indians in June of 2019.
Out 12-to-14 months after surgery
PCleveland Guardians  AA
May 3, 2023
Espino underwent a right shoulder anterior capsule repair surgery Tuesday in Los Angeles and is expected to remain out of game action for 12-to-14 months, Mandy Bell of MLB.com reports.
The surgery was performed by renowned shoulder and elbow specialist Dr. Neal ElAttrache. It's another significant setback for Espino, a right-hander who has showcased some of the best stuff among pitching prospects in baseball when healthy, but he's been able to accumulate only 18.1 innings since the start of the 2022 season. Assuming the 12-to-14-month recovery timeline holds, Espino will be out of commission until the summer of 2024.
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Recent RotoWire Articles Featuring Daniel Espino See More
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
The main knock on Espino for dynasty is that he's still over a year away from the majors and a lot can go wrong in that amount of time. However, his stuff is electric. He struck out 152 in 91.2 innings across Low-A and High-A as a 20-year-old and his fastball and slider are already devastating pitches. A very strong and athletic right-hander, Espino is 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds. While he is shorter than most righty starters, his arsenal suggests he will be a starter all the way. His curveball and changeup should be average or better pitches, and his 8.2 BB% at High-A was an encouraging mark for a pitcher his age with his high-octane stuff. There are a ton of quality arms ahead of Espino on Cleveland's organizational depth chart, so a 2022 debut seems nearly impossible, but he could be up in 2023 if he stays healthy.
A chiseled 6-foot-1, 205-pound prep righty whom Cleveland selected with the 24th overall pick in 2019, Espino has some of the nastiest stuff in the minors. He is easy to identify in videos due to his long arm action, and so far he has thrown enough strikes to project as a starter. His mid-90s fastball can touch 99 mph and is a 70-grade pitch. Espino's slider, curveball and changeup all have a chance to be 60-grade pitches, which would amount to a frontline-caliber repertoire. The big question is whether he will eventually be able to bring his dominant stuff to the mound in five-plus inning stints over a full MLB season, as he has been handled with kid gloves thus far. He spent the summer impressing at the alternate site, but a minor shoulder injury prevented him from pitching in the fall instructional league, which serves as a small reminder of the extreme risk that was already a part of the package.
Of all the pitchers selected in the 2019 draft, Espino has the most obvious upside. A chiseled 6-foot-2, 205-pound righty who was born in Panama but moved to the U.S. in 2016, Espino's fastball is an upper-90s monster with excellent life. He also throws two breaking balls that each have the potential to be plus pitches, along with a fourth-pitch changeup. After selecting him with the 24th overall pick, the Indians helped make his delivery a little less violent, but he still walked 10 batters in his first 23.2 pro innings. He was touching triple digits as an 18-year-old before the draft, which in itself is a medical red flag -- pitchers that age who throw that hard often deal with elbow trouble at some point on their march to the majors. The range of outcomes, from frontline starter to shutdown reliever to a career that is derailed by arm injuries, is incredibly wide.
More Fantasy News
Shut down with shoulder setback
PCleveland Guardians  AA
April 23, 2023
Espino (shoulder) has been shut down from throwing and is planning to visit with a doctor after suffering recent setbacks, Mandy Bell of MLB.com reports.
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On track for summer return
PCleveland Guardians  AA
April 21, 2023
Espino (shoulder) is on track to return from the 60-day injured list by June or July, Brad Bournival of the Akron Beacon Journal reports.
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Ahead of schedule
PCleveland Guardians  AA
March 22, 2023
Espino (shoulder) could be ready for game action as early as May, according to Guardians Prospective.
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No throwing for eight weeks
PCleveland Guardians  AA
February 20, 2023
Espino has yet to throw from a mound during spring training and is expected be down from throwing for eight weeks after suffering a right shoulder strain, Mandy Bell of MLB.com reports.
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Shoulder to blame for missed time
PCleveland Guardians  AA
December 5, 2022
Espino, who was originally shut down in May with patellar tendinitis, ended up missing the rest of the season with a sore right shoulder, Mandy Bell of MLB.com reports.
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