SECAUCUS, N.J. — The Cleveland Indians selected right-handed pitcher Daniel Espino with the 24th overall pick in the MLB Draft on Monday (for a complete tracker of every pick made in Day 1, click here). Espino was born in Panama, but he sacrificed staying home with his family, and moved to the United States when he was 15 to pursue his dream of playing professional baseball.

Not only did Espino’s sacrifice pay off, but he was fortunate enough to able to share the moment when his dream came true, with his family from Panama.

“It means a lot, it’s amazing,” Espino said about having the opportunity to share the moment with his family, who made the trip to New Jersey for the draft. “I don’t see them that much, I get to see them twice a year, for Christmas and for the summer. For them to be here means a lot to me, it’s a gift God has given me.”

Espino’s parents, siblings and grandmother were alongside him as he heard MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announce his name late in the first round. “Every single of one of them,” Espino said when asked how many of his family members made the trip to be there in person with him. “But there’s still some more in Panama, just to let you know.”

Espino, 18, was selected out of Georgia Premier Academy where he started his senior year 9-0 with a 0.32 ERA and 109 strikeouts through 44 innings pitched. The righty allowed just nine walks and 10 hits.

Espino possesses an excellent fastball-slider combo, and his curve has the makings of a usable third pitch. He also has enough of a changeup for teams to see him as a future starter. He usually works in 94-97 mph range, but he has already touched 100-plus on his fastball. 

Espino is now under the same organization as Trevor Bauer, who coincidentally broke down Espino’s skills on MLB Network’s telecast of the draft and compared him to Rays ace Tyler Galsnow.

Bauer pointed out that Espino still has plenty of areas to improve despite being extremely talented for his size and arm strength.

“If he tightens up that arm action a little bit, solidifies that posture, he’s going to throw even harder with better command than he has now,” Bauer said. “I got to tell you, that’s a very scary thought for the hitters who are gonna have to face him.”   

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