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A Closer Look: Nationals Second Baseman Danny Espinosa

The Nationals drafted shortstop Danny Espinosa in 3rd round of the 2008 amateur draft. He was assigned to High A Potomac in 2009 where he hit .264-.375-.460 with 18 HRs, 72 RBIs and 29 SBs. 

Even after his 2009 season, some prospect experts had reservations if Espinosa could duplicate his power/speed effort against more advanced pitching in AA. 

Here is what John Sickels from SB Nations' Minor League Ball had to say about him last November in his preliminary Top 20 rankings (he provided more analysis in his book) for the Nationals:

4) Danny Espinosa, SS, Grade B: Has some pop, steals bases, draws walks, very good glove. Scouts in Arizona love him.

But Kevin Goldstein from Baseball Prospectus was a little more critical:

The Bad: The biggest question about Espinosa revolves around his core hitting skills. His swing has some length to it, as well as a trigger, and many wonder if he'll be able to hit for much of an average at the upper levels. He doesn't have any true plus tools, but he doesn't have any truly below-average ones, either.

The consensus was that Espinosa may not hit for a high BA, but could provide some power and speed on the basepaths. Goldstein liked him enough to rank him as his 101st best prospect coming into the 2010 season.

In 2010, Espinosa has hit .268-.337-.464 with 22 HRs, 69 RBIs and 25 SBs between AA Harrisburg and AAA Syracuse. The batting average is not dazzling, but the power and SB totals are very enticing to a fantasy owner who can overlook a mediocre BA.

Here is what Sickels had to say back about Espinosa back in August in his annual review of his pre-seaon Top 20 Nationals rankings:

4) Danny Espinosa, SS, Grade B:  .264/.334/.472 with 20 homers, 21 steals between Double-A and Triple-A. Not going to win batting titles, but does a lot of things well.

The Nationals promoted Espinosa on September 1st, and manager Jim Riggleman has indicated that he will see plenty of playing time at second base with Ian Desmond entrenched at shortstop. He went 2-4 with an opposite field HR last night in his first major league start.

Going into 2011 fantasy drafts I could see Espinosa being a sleeper at second base, unless he continues to show power at the plate in September. in that case, he could be hyped pretty well-think Gordon Beckham.

I picked up Espinosa in the UBA NL-only keeper league and plan on keeping him at the $10 salary we assign all free agent pick-ups.