Edwin Espinal signs with the Detroit Tigers


On Saturday, the Pittsburgh Pirates lost a minor league farmhand to the Detroit Tigers via minor league free agency

23-year-old first baseman Edwin Espinal is no longer a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization. The career minor leaguer signed a minor league contract with the Detroit Tigers on Saturday. This included an invite to Major League Spring Training.

Edwin Espinal spent all of 2017 in the minor leagues. After starting the season with Double-A Altoona, he spent the final 35 games of the season with the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians. This was his first trip to the Triple-A level.

Due to Josh Bell, Edwin Espinal was always going to be blocked in Pittsburgh. Furthermore, other than being a strong defensive player he does not bring much to the table.

While, yes, Espinal won a minor league gold glove this past season this is where his strong qualities as a player end. He owned just a 4.5 percent walk rate at Double-A last season, 3.0 percent at Triple-A, and just a 5.0 percent walk rate during his minor league career. This led to Espinal owning a lifetime on-base percentage of just .323 in the minor leagues.

Edwin Espinal also does not hit for power. Outside of an ISO of .191 at Double-A last season, he has never had an ISO higher than .102. So, it is safe to say his results at Double-A last year were an anomaly and not a new trend. Especially since his ISO plummeted to .046 at Triple-A.

His lifetime slugging percentage in the minor leagues is just .389 and he owns just 167 extra base hits in 2,230 career at-bats. No matter how you want to try and quantify it, Espinal simply does not have any power.

The lack of on-base skills and power led to Edwin Espinal owning just a 101 wRC+ and a .325 wOBA in the minor leagues. This makes him roughly one percent better than league average, and if a hitter is only one percent better than league average in the minor leagues then that is not a good sign for their future in the Major Leagues.

Next: Free agent target: Tyler Chatwood

Edwin Espinal was never going to be more than organizational depth for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 2018, it would have taken injuries to, at least, Josh Bell, Jose Osuna, and Sean Rodriguez for him to see significant playing time in the Major Leagues. He will now get an opportunity elsewhere with the Detroit Tigers.