The San Diego Padres Top 100 Prospects: #98--Xavier Esquivel, RHP

Name: Xavier Esquivel
Position: Pitcher (RH Reliever)
DOB: 9/5/88
2010 Level(s): Eugene (Short-season-A)

The Padres’ 34th-round selection in the 2010 MLB Draft, Esquivel is a stocky reliever out of Loyola Marymount who’s turned in a nice performance in the Northwest League, with a 26/7 K/BB in 30 2/3 innings.

The 21-year-old has a tenacious demeanor and comes right after hitters with a fastball around 90 mph. Esquivel throws a curveball to righties and his changeup sees a lot of action against lefties. He’s unafraid to challenge hitters and comes right after them, which is a nice attribute to have–without top-notch stuff, you sure can’t afford to walk many.

Esquivel is just 5’10″, so he doesn’t get great downward plane on his fastball, leading to lots of fly balls. That makes homers something of an issue, as he struggled with them in college and has been just average at preventing them in pro ball (small sample alert!).

While he has struck out 23 righties in 18 1/3 innings against them, he’s only whiffed three lefties in 12 1/3. He’s made up for that somewhat by walking just one lefty as opposed to six righties, but it doesn’t look like that changeup is getting swings and misses. If Northwest League hitters can consistently hit your changeup, chances are hitters in the California and Texas Leagues will be able to square it up just fine later on. Improving the pitch will be essential to Esquivel’s career aspirations.

For now, Esquivel shows promise as a strike-thrower who can punch out righties by the bushel. His tendency to always be in the zone, though, could hurt him (with the homers), so it will be key for him to refine his command and the changeup. He’s a longshot right now, but Esquivel has some positive attributes and is one of the better late-round picks in the Padres’ 2010 draft class.

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