Failed Padres top prospect makes stunning return with minor league deal

DETROIT, MI - JULY 25: A detailed view of a San Diego Padres baseball hat. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - JULY 25: A detailed view of a San Diego Padres baseball hat. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

The San Diego Padres may be sitting at the league’s big kids table lately, but it’s easy to forget that this team was operating as one of baseball’s bottom feeders for the longest time. So many top prospects joined the graveyard of hypes players who never manifested.

One of the many failed prospects that San Diego was unable to mold into a star was Anderson Espinoza. Even though he lacked the ideal frame for a big league pitcher, the teenage sensation appeared to be well on his way to pro stardom after a few years in the minors.

Unfortunately, injuries sapped him of his powers, and the Padres eventually let him go. The Chicago Cubs picked him up for a brief stint as a relief pitcher, but he did little to impress them. Looking to recapture the magic he had in his youth, Espinoza is going back to his old stomping grounds.

Espinoza has decided to make a stunning return to San Diego, inking a minor league contract with the team. While his baseball career has not gone according to plan, the Padres may have a little bit of developmental magic left over that could turn him into a viable pro reliever.

Anderson Espinoza has joined the San Diego Padres.

Espinoza came to the Padres in a 2016 trade with the Red Sox that sent Drew Pomeranz to Boston. With an explosive fastball and looping curveball, Espinoza appeared to have frontline stuff. Unfortunately, everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong.

Espinoza did not throw a professional pitch for four straight seasons between 2017 and 2020, as the first three years were due to a pair of Tommy John Surgeries and the last one was the cause of COVID-19 canceling the season. He was then traded to the Cubs for Jake Marisnick.

Despite posting a 7.55 ERA in the minors and giving up 17 home runs in 70 innings, Espinoza made his major league debut this season. He surrendered 11 runs in 18 innings, giving up four home runs and walking 16 batters along the way. This is a lottery ticket signing by San Diego.

If the Padres can even make Espinoza a marginal player that goes up and down between Triple-A and the major leagues, that will be a massive success. If not, he’ll be a painful reminder of all the much-hyped minor league players that never amounted to much in San Diego in what was a fairly anonymous period