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The San Diego Padres were hopeful that Anderson Espinoza would be able to get back on the mound this season, adding yet another arm to their already impressive list of pitching prospects. He had been a consensus top 25 prospect before the 2017 campaign, but has missed each of the last two seasons due to Tommy Joh surgery. Nonetheless, Espinoza is still ranked as the Padres 13th best prospect according to MLB.com, a lofty status considering his injury woes.
Unfortunately, that timeline for Espinoza to take the mound and reclaim his status as a top prospect has taken another step back. He has undergone a second Tommy John surgery, as the graft ruptured. Considering the timing of the procedure, Espinoza may not be ready to take the mound until late in 2020, or at the beginning of 2021.
When last he was on the diamond, Espinoza was showing some of the potential that made him a top prospect. One could forgive his 4.49 ERA and 1.385 WHiP in his 108.1 innings in A ball in 2016, especially as he struck out 100 batters with only 35 walks.
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If healthy, Espinoza has the potential to be a top of the rotation starter. Despite a relatively small frame at 6′ tall and weighing just 160 pounds, he had a fastball that sat in the mid to upper 90s, an excellent changeup with plenty of sink, and the beginnings of what could be a plus curveball. With a fluid delivery and repeatable mechanics, Espinoza had the potential to be a star in the making.
With this second procedure, it is fair to wonder what Anderson will have left when he eventually returns to the mound. He had been compared to the late Yordano Ventura before, but this second procedure after the first one failed is definitely concerning.
It may also change the way that Espinoza is viewed moving forward. The Padres had been determined to keep him in the rotation despite any durability concerns due to his size. This second procedure could force their hands, and lead to Espinoza moving to the bullpen.
Anderson Espinoza had another setback, and will require a second Tommy John surgery. The San Diego Padres prospect will not be back on the mound until 2020 at the earliest.