Miami Marlins Prospect Watch: Second Bagger Walner Espinal

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 5: A detailed view of the first base bag used for the game between the Philadelphia Phillies and Miami Marlins for Roberto Clemente Day at Marlins Park on September 5, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 5: A detailed view of the first base bag used for the game between the Philadelphia Phillies and Miami Marlins for Roberto Clemente Day at Marlins Park on September 5, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /
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Throughout the 2018/2019 offseason, Marlin Maniac will devote one article each for every player who appeared in the Miami Marlins system for the 2018 season. Every. Single. Player. This is Part 151 of 286. For the first 100, click here.

Walner Gabriel Espinal is an 6′, 170 lb. second baseman from Santiago, Dominican Republic. Born on December 21st, 1999, he signed with the Miami Marlins during the 2016 international signing period.

The city of Santiago has produced 50 major league players as of the present day, including Jhonny Peralta and Carlos Gomez.

Miami Marlins
CLEVELAND, OH – SEPTEMBER 2: Catcher Roberto Perez #55 of the Cleveland Indians tags Carlos Gomez #27 of the Tampa Bay Rays as he reacts after striking out during the fourth inning at Progressive Field on September 2, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Players signed internationally generally begin their professional careers in the rookie-level Dominican Summer League. Strictly speaking, they are a little raw, to put it simply, and a random player’s chances of ascending all the way to the major leagues are slim. There are exceptions. Current Miami Marlins pitchers Jarlin Garcia and Jose Urena originated out of the DSL.

Espinal reported to the DSL Marlins to begin his professional career at the start of the 2017 campaign, still at the age of 17. He appeared in 54 games for the eventual 40-29 club, ranking fourth on the team with 64 total bases. He slashed out a .273/.356/.342 line, with seven doubles, two homers, 21 RBI, and seven stolen bases. Initially advertised as a second and third baseman, Espinal made four errors in seven games at third for an .833 fielding percentage. He was much more natural playing second, where he put up a .956 mark over 45 games.

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A lateral promotion would see Espinal join the GCL Marlins, in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League on June 1st, 2018. Nearly two years younger than the “average” player on the team, he got into a team-lead-tying 45 games. Over 171 plate appearances, he hit .252/.308/.377, with eight doubles, three homers, and a team-best 26 RBI. He only drew 11 walks and scored 17 runs while striking out 46 times. The GCL Marlins posted a 25-31 record.

Espinal totaled nine multi-hit games through the season, including a season high three on June 25th in a 12-5 loss to the GCL Cardinals. In that contest, he hit two singles and a double, scoring a run and knocking two in.

Defensively, Espinal’s second season would see him play all but one inning at second base in 2018. He boasted a much-improved .974 fielding percentage, making only five errors in 360 2/3 innings of work.

Espinal has done more than enough to stick around for at least another season. We should expect to see him with the short-season-A Batavia Muckdogs in the New York-Penn League in 2019.

Next. Sean Burnett's 2018 Season Review. dark

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