The seesaw spring of Padres #1 prospect Anderson Espinoza

In a 2017 season where San Diego Padre fans are more focused on the team’s minor league prospects than the struggling big league squad, there’s been a problem: their top prospect has been nowhere to be found.

Anderson Espinoza, the 19-year-old consensus #1 prospect in San Diego’s system after coming over in the trade of Drew Pomeranz to Boston last year, was supposed to start the year helping lead a stacked pitching staff for High-A Lake Elsinore but hasn’t made a single pitch there as his status has seesawed back and forth between bad news and good news.

After getting through spring training without apparent trouble, the team announced in early April that Espinoza would start the season on the DL “due to forearm tightness.” Bad news!

The Padres said a day later that the injury wasn’t related to his elbow or UCL, calming concerns of those who worried about a potential Tommy John surgery and lost year, and the team said they expected him to be pitching in games in May. Good news!

Two weeks later, Espinoza was quoted by the Union-Tribune as “feeling good” and “ready to go.” Good news! But then a week later he was shut down again; this time with “mild soreness in his right elbow.” Bad news!

The next update came in mid-May when GM A.J. Preller said Espinoza was scheduled to restart his throwing progression the following week. Good news!

Since then, there has been precious little info released by the team, leading many a social media detective to inquire about his status.

Finally last week, more good news! From Espinoza himself on Instagram, he posted a video a week ago today of himself throwing at the Padres’ complex in Peoria. “After 2 long months of recovery, it’s my second time doing my throwing program, I feel happy about my progress and I’m anxious to get back to the mound … Espy comes soon,” he wrote.

Assuming the bad news/good news seesaw doesn’t swing back the wrong way, Espinoza should hopefully make his way to Lake Elsinore in the near future as spring turns to summer.

So what should fans expect? Short outings, for one. Espinoza got more than 15 outs just once in a game last year, and the Padres will be extra careful with him coming off of the extended absence. As for performance, his 4.73 ERA in eight games at Fort Wayne last year belied strong peripheral stats, most notably a 3.17 FIP, so you can expect his numbers in Lake Elsinore to resemble that latter number rather than the former.

The first step though is just getting out there on the mound, and Padre fans are hoping they’ll see him there soon.

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