You could probably put the pieces together yesterday, when Wily Peralta was demoted to the bullpen and Paolo Espino was scratched from his scheduled start in Triple-A, but the Brewers made it official today — the right-hander who has spent a decade in the minor leagues will be making his major league debut on Friday against the Chicago Cubs.
Manager Craig Counsell announces that RHP Paolo Espino will start tomorrow's game against the Cubs. Espino will be making his MLB debut. pic.twitter.com/I0Y7VQMtEZ— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) May 18, 2017
The 30-year-old signed on with the Brewers as a minor league free agent this past winter. Despite a long track record of success in the high minors, Espino never got a chance to pitch in the majors for Cleveland or Washington.
That probably has to do with his small stature -- he's listed at 5'10" and 190 pounds -- and his lack of electric stuff kept him off the prospect radar. All he ever did was produce, though, carrying a career 7.8 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 at the Triple-A level before this season.
Despite the terrible pitching conditions of Colorado Springs, Espino has arguably been the best Triple-A pitcher in all of minor league baseball. In 7 starts, he's put up a 2.54 ERA, striking out 40 batters in 39 innings and walking just 5.
He doesn't throw hard -- high 80s to low 90s -- but he does possess a potent curveball that's led to the high strikeout numbers in the minors.
With Junior Guerra on a rehab assignment, Espino may only get a couple of chances to show what he can do in the majors before getting sent back down. But if he produces like he has (and possibly become the 2017 version of Guerra), the Brewers may have an interesting -- and good -- problem to solve in a couple weeks.
No corresponding move has been announced yet, but that will probably come after this afternoon’s game in San Diego, as the Brewers wouldn’t want to leave themselves short-handed in the event of a marathon series finale. Espino will take the open spot on the 40-man roster created by Jhan Marinez’s recent DFA.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference