Daniel Espino, SP CLE
One of the next cogs in the never-ending wheel of awesome Cleveland pitching prospects, Daniel Espino has shown off his swing and miss stuff in A ball to start the year. Espino was the Indians first-round pick in 2019 out of the Georgia prep ranks. At the time of his selection, FanGraphs noted that many scouts thought Espino had the best stuff of any pitcher in the entire draft.
In his limited game action, Espino has sat in the mid to upper 90s with his fastball and has the potential for three above-average secondary offerings. Despite some spotty command, his stuff is clearly too much for most hitters at his level to handle.
Espino has always been a bit of a high-risk prospect due to his status as a high-velocity prep pitcher, but his long and unorthodox arm action only adds fuel to the fire. If he is able to maintain his health and velocity for even most of the 2021 season, he will shoot up prospect boards as one of the higher upside pitchers in the minors.
Matt Canterino, SP MIN
Canterino has been on my watch list dating back to last year and I even wrote about him as one of the AL Central prospects to watch prior to this season. His stuff has always been incredible; he pairs a mid-90s heater with a devastating wipeout slider and a changeup that has shown tremendous improvement in the past year.
Based on stuff alone, Canterino looks like an easy bet to be a mid-rotation starter in Minnesota. The big question mark is how his unconventional delivery impacts his future role. It’s a high effort, herky-jerky windup with over-the-top arm action, a delivery that lacks many predecessors among current MLB starters.
When I saw him in spring training, he seemed like the type of prospect that a good Twins team might push to the majors in a bullpen role to help this season. However, the Twins’ hopes of competing have fallen apart and they have shown no signs of moving Canterino from a starter role. Of course, It helps that he has put up some spectacular results, pitching to a 1.00 ERA in A+ ball and striking out a whopping 17.5 hitters per nine innings.
Matt Canterino will undoubtedly see a promotion soon and will likely become a consensus top 100 prospect by the end of the season barring an injury. There will always be relief risk present in his profile, but he has done everything he can to show he can be a long-term rotation piece.