The signing period for international free agents began yesterday and the Red Sox didn’t waste any time in signing two of the best pitchers available. Boston came to terms with both Christopher Acosta, ranked by Baseball America as the fourth best pitcher and eleventh best prospect on the market, and Anderson Espinoza, ranked as the best pitcher and fourth best prospect among all international free agents.
Acosta, a Dominican right-hander, is described as having good command and an excellent feel for pitching that places him well above the average 16 year old prospect. His smooth mechanics and easy delivery allow him to tap into his excellent pitchers’ frame (6’3″ and 170 pounds) and reach into the low 90′s with his fastball; however, he’ll likely add velocity as he ages and gains some muscle. Acosta also mixes in a change and curve, both of which have the potential to be well above-average Major League offerings. He might not have the highest ceiling around, but given how advanced he is, it’s easy to see him developing into at least a mid-rotation starter.
Speaking of high ceilings, that’s where Anderson Espinoza fits into the equation. He is only 5’10″ and 150 pounds but he has the power stuff as well as good secondary offerings which have drawn comparisons to Pedro Martinez. Espinoza sits in the low 90′s right now, but like Acosta, should gain some velocity in coming years which should make him a bona fide power pitcher. However, he isn’t just hard stuff; he also throws a sharp breaking ball and sinking change which give him the ceiling of a top-rotation starter in time.
This represents a good start to the international signing period for the Red Sox as, while Boston has plenty of pitching depth in its farm system, there is a lack of true impact talent on that side of the ball. Both Acosta and Espinoza should provide the high ceilings which teams covet so much on the international market. It also could signify a change in the Red Sox’ scouting department as the team has not traditionally made splashes on the international market but this outburst following last year’s acquisition of Rafael Devers could represent a change in strategy from the Red Sox’ front office and as a fan, I’m all for it.