The Cleveland Guardians are full of quality young arms.
Tanner Bibee, Gavin Williams, Logan Allen, Hunter Gaddis, Xzavion Curry, Cade Smith, and more: the farm system keeps up producing notable talents on the mound.
On sheer raw talent alone, however, none of them has the upside of Daniel Espino.
A top prospect for a while, Espino had to miss the 2023 campaign after undergoing surgery to repair his shoulder capsule in May.
He was given a 12-14 month timetable, so the expectation was always that he would pitch in 2024, but the exact moment of his return wasn’t (and isn’t) clear yet.
However, he has been putting in the work during the work during the offseason and appears to be ahead of schedule.
“#Guardians 22yr old RHP prospect Daniel Espino putting in some work today back home in Panama. Amazing to see how hard Espino is throwing after undergoing shoulder surgery last May & given a 12-14 month timetable for a return. He looks to be way ahead of schedule. Still look for the organization to treat Espino with kid gloves as we head toward the start of the 2024 season,” Guardians Prospective tweeted.
#Guardians 22yr old RHP prospect Daniel Espino putting in some work today back home in Panama. Amazing to see how hard Espino is throwing after undergoing shoulder surgery last May & given a 12-14 month timetable for a return. He looks to be way ahead of schedule. Still look for… pic.twitter.com/CPd6oq1Bvo
— Guardians Prospective (@CleGuardPro) January 3, 2024
Shoulder surgery is the most serious a pitcher can have.
That’s why the Guardians will probably take it slow with Espino even if he looks to be closer to a return than previously imagined.
The last thing the team wants is for the pitcher to aggravate the injury again.
The fact he is throwing, at that velocity, is highly encouraging, though.
Espino has reached as high as Double-A: he pitched 18.1 innings there in 2022, with a 2.45 ERA and a phenomenal 35/4 SO/BB ratio.
That strikeout to walk ratio tells you everything you need to know about Espino, a guy with star-level stuff and also great command.
Cleveland fans are eager to see him pitch in the majors, but that moment will likely come in 2025.
The objective for 2024 is for him to get healthy enough to pitch in the minor leagues and continue his development.