Yesterday the Arizona Diamondbacks promoted rookie left-hander Edwin Escobar. He made the start against the Houston Astros and was hammered, giving up 10 hits and seven runs in 3.1 innings of work. Escobar has been up and down on prospect lists the last few years, so let's see where he currently stands.
Escobar was originally signed by the Texas Rangers out of Venezuela back in 2009. He was traded to the San Francisco Giants in 2010, subsequently emerging as an interesting prospect with an excellent 2012 season in Low-A. He remained strong in 2013 but slumped in '14, posting a 4.94 ERA in Triple-A, then was traded to the Boston Red Sox. He got a two-inning cup of coffee with the Sox that year, then struggled in Triple-A last season while fighting arm problems, posting a 5.07 ERA with a weak 24/25 K/BB in 50 innings.
From the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:
Edwin Escobar, LHP, Boston Red Sox
Bats: L Throws: L HT: 6-2 WT: 200 DOB: April 22, 1992
2013: Grade C+; 2014: Grade B+; 2015: Grade C+
I liked this guy a lot a couple of years ago but his game has really fallen off since reaching Triple-A. An elbow injury hampered Escobar early last year and he remained ineffective after being activated in June and sent to the Pawtucket bullpen. He moved into the rotation when Pawtucket needed a starter in August and looked a little more like his old self, allowing nine runs in 27 innings for a 3.00 ERA, but even then his K/BB ratio was very weak at 10/13. A few years ago Escobar showed an intriguing low-90s fastball and both his breaking ball and change-up flashed plus. The radar gun readings haven’t changed much but the fastball seems less crisp now, the secondaries have sagged, and his command isn’t as good as in the past. He is too young to write off completely but something isn’t right. Grade C.
Escobar threw seven innings at Pawtucket this spring before being placed on waivers and claimed by Arizona. The Diamondbacks put him in the rotation at Reno where he posted a 4.68 ERA with a 17/6 K/BB in 25 innings before moving up yesterday.
Velocity-wise, there doesn't seem to be much wrong with Escobar. He still throws 90-94 MPH with his four-seamer and he doesn't give up tons of walks. He has a curve in the 70s and a change-up in the 80s, but the secondary pitches just don't seem as crisp as they did a few years ago. While his walk rates are reasonable his command within the strike zone seems marginal, particularly with his secondary offerings. He just doesn't seem to fool a lot of people these days and he gets hit hard when his command isn't perfect.
(Most of this summary was written before his start against the Astros. I haven't reviewed the game reports but I would be very interested in the observations of anyone who watched Escobar yesterday. Why did they hit him so hard? Did it fit with the pre-game scouting reports?)
At this stage Escobar looks like a fifth starter if he can sharpen up his command but I think it more likely that his eventual niche will be in the bullpen.