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The Next Big Star

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While most people see Lucas Giolito as the next great pitcher coming up, there is actually another, even younger pitcher, drawing the comparisons to Pedro and Felix.

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While the general consensus is that Lucas Giolito is the best pitcher in the minors and that the likes of Alex Reyes, Tyler Glasnow, and Julio Urias are right behind him, there is a teenage pitching prospect for the Boston Red Sox that scouts are comparing to Pedro Martinez and Felix Hernandez. His name is Anderson Espinoza, and it is him that has the brightest future of any pitching prospect in the game.

Despite being a high profile July 2nd free agent signing in 2014, Espinoza was an unknown to even the hardcore prospect fans at this time last year. However that is because he was a kid who turned 17 years old last March, and hadn't even debuted in the Dominican Summer League(DSL) yet. It seemed like he was a kid that was going to head to the DSL and take at least 2-3 years before he got to make a name for himself to the casual fans.

That assessment started out correct, as he did head to the DSL when it began in June. He pitched in 4 games there and looked so good that the Red Sox moved him up to the Gulf Coast League(GCL) when it opened in late June. The Red Sox were just hoping for the kid to hold his own, considering his age, being in a new country, and the fact he was competing against players an average of 3.2 years older than him. However Espinoza dominated the GCL, pitching 40 innings over 10 games and going 0-1 with a 0.68 ERA and 0.825 WHIP as he held hitters to a 5.4 hits per nine innings mark. To put that into perspective, the 17 year old kid struck out nearly double the amount of batters as he allowed hits to- at 40 strikeouts to 24 hits allowed.

The Red Sox were so impressed by Espinoza that they did something unheard of- allowing a 17 year old kid who signed as an international free agent just a year before to reach full season ball, as he was rewarded with a September start for Greenville in the South Atlantic League. It wasn't his best start of the year, but he also didn't embarass himself. He finished the season striking out 65 batters over 58.1 innings across the three stops, showing big time strikeout potential against much older hitters.

Since the end of the season he has seen his stock skyrocket. Articles like these are just a sampling of the crazy hype around him. But it's easy to see why, as this scouting report from Baseball America talks about his currently 98 MPH fastball to go with two more pitches which could also become plus or better. That's three pitches which could be in the plus to plus-plus range, and he's obviously mature enough as a pitcher to be capable of handling such a challenging assignment as he received last year.

Conclusion

I don't usually like to over-hype a kid, but after checking out his start with Greenville on MILB.tv(9/5/15, Game 1 of double header against Savannah), I fully believe in him. He's the type of pitcher that can be an ace as he develops, and has a chance to potentially be the best in the game. He's a guy that could fill out all four categories for starting pitchers- wins, ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts.