New Hampshire released their roster yesterday, a group that includes 5 Top 25 prospects.
Leading the way is SS Orelvis Martinez, who was expected to begin at Vancouver, but an impressive spring convinced the organization that he could handle the jump to AA. High A pitchers got Orelvis to chase spin on the outer half last August; it will be interesting to see how his pitch recognition has improved in that regard. Will an anticipated move to 3B begin this season? Stay tuned.
RHP Joey Murray is a guy we’re really looking forward to seeing. Murray and his high spin-rate invisiball missed a lot of bats in 2019, but he’s pitched less than an inning since then. The reports we had last week is that he was ready to go. He last pitched at New Hampshire three years ago, so starting him there likely gives him a chance to build up his innings in a slightly less pressure-filled environment.
Converted C Hagen Danner was lights out in relief for Vancouver last year, and the club decided to add him to the 40-man rather than try to sneak him through the (ultimately postponed) Rule 5. Adrian Hernandez rode his change up and vastly improved fastball to pitch at three levels last year. His change might be the best in the organization, a pitch he’s not afraid to throw in any count.
Brendan Gawlowski wrote this about Espino last fall, and it succinctly summarizes his prospects:
Espino has all the makings of a divisive prospect. Let’s start with the good. He’s 21, strong and lanky with room for growth, plays on the left side of the infield, and is already hitting for power. He’s hitting for everything, come to think of it, slashing .300/.359/.521 in 58 High-A games. The bad news is that he has no approach to speak of. He’s very aggressive and doesn’t have much feel for the zone. He’s not helpless against offspeed — he made an adjustment on an inside changeup and lined it over the fence in a game last week — but spin gets him off balance, and his swing looks ugly when it does. Both that swing and his contact rates are notable for the wrong reasons
Also of note on the roster is 1B Spencer Horwitz, who fashioned a record hitting streak with Vancouver last year. Horwitz changed his approach somewhere around mid-season to get more loft – only a handful of players in the system topped Horwitz’ 47% ground ball rate, which was probably much higher before he made some adjustments. It will be interesting to see if he can carry those changes over the jump to AA.
RHP Maximo Castillo, somewhat of a victim of a numbers game, will be repeating AA. Perhaps a move to the bullpen is in the works, although that’s a pretty crowded situation in New Hampshire at the moment.