Boston Red Sox Prospects: 2020 will be the year of Tyler Esplin
By Hunter Noll
The 2020 regular season is almost upon us. So it’s time to talk about which Boston Red Sox prospects have big things in store for the upcoming campaign.
At this point, the 2020 season is really up in the air. I mean, the season was supposed to start on March 26. As I’m writing this, it’s March 26 – and we have absolutely no idea when things will start again.
When they do though, we’ll likely experience an extremely odd season. It will definitely be shortened, which means prospects won’t have as much time to make their marks in 2020.
That doesn’t mean some of them won’t do just that though. And one person who is poised to make his mark is Tyler Esplin. The Boston Red Sox 20-year-old right field prospect.
Why exactly will 2020 be the year of Tyler Esplin though? Let’s take a look.
First I feel like I need to say, Esplin has one of the weirdest starts to a career I’ve ever seen.
It’s not like he’s been traded a lot, or jumped all around the field or the minors or anything. No, what I’m talking about is how he’s been viewed. Esplin was drafted in the seventh round back in 2017. He was seen as a top-30 prospect for Boston almost immediately. To start the 2018 season, he was ranked at number 26 in the Red Sox system.
After a down 2018 though, Esplin was not a top-30 prospect for the Red Sox, according to MLB, going into the 2019 season. Not only was he out of the top-30 though, but it also seemed like he was never even really brought up in conversations anymore. Like people thought they had seen enough to write off the (at the time) teenager.
Then came 2019, and Esplin clearly improved on his game.
The left-handed hitter played 100 games for Full-A. While there, he slashed .253/.326/.375 with career-highs in doubles (26) and home runs (5), adding three triples as well. Esplin also set new marks in steals (6), runs scored (52) and RBI (43).
This all led to him getting called up to Advanced-A to end the year. While there, Esplin played in just two regular-season games, going 1-for-5 with a walk.
However, he also got some postseason time. And showed out. Going 4-for-16 (.250) Esplin roped one double and two home runs, driving in four runs and scoring four more.
Now he’s back in Boston’s top-30 prospects (number 28).
And now we’re in 2020. Esplin is coming off the heels of his best season. Not only that, but he also took it to the next level in the second half of 2019. The lefty slashed .274/.353/.394 in the second half in Full-A.
Is it safe to say we’re seeing Esplin evolve right before our very eyes? Last season something clicked. And now he’s starting 2020 in Advanced-A.
That’s going to put a lot of eyes on him, as he’s now just a few steps away from the Majors.
Don’t get me wrong, he still has a little ways to go. It’s not like we’ll be seeing Esplin in Boston this season. But he’s creeping closer. Sure, you could argue that he hasn’t had much experience in Advanced-A. He got some playoff time and quickly went to work with those homers.
Esplin’s a fun prospect. He’s 6’4″, 225 lbs. In the glorious words of Brock Lesnar when Keith Lee walked to the ring at the 2020 Royal Rumble “that’s a big boy!”
Esplin has a solid combination of athleticism with that size though. I’m not saying he’s got Mookie Betts athleticism, but for his size, he can move around pretty well.
That means a few things. First, he has good potential in right field. He’s got the size for it and his decent athleticism will play really nice there. Esplin also has an absolute cannon that will keep a lot of runners honest.
Meanwhile, he’s more dangerous on the basepaths than you might expect. No, he won’t be stealing 30 bases any time soon, but double digits aren’t out of the question. And seeing as he projects more as a power bat, that’s fantastic.
So far, Esplin hasn’t done anything crazy power-wise. He has 10 career home runs. However, he’s still just 20. Let’s remember that. The power will come. He has a swing that will definitely create some power and started to show flashes of it last season. Hitting .300 might be a stretch, but Esplin could definitely find a home in the .275 range.
In 2020, it will all truly start to come together. We saw the start of it in the second half of 2019. Now comes the power starting to build.
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Pending how many games we get, this could be the first time we see 10-plus home runs from Esplin. That number will only continue to climb in the subsequent years as well.
As for Jarren Duran, this season might not be about call-ups for Esplin. It’s about the spotlight. He’s in a position where he has some eyes on him again. And he’s poised for a strong season.
If he can put it together, Esplin could see himself shoot up the prospect ranks and become a player the fans are much more excited to see.
He already started that in Spring Training. Esplin was 0-for-3 with two walks, an RBI and a run. That might not sound like much, but he was there. Oh, and he made a fantastic grab that had fans talking.
The spotlight is there. Now he just has to take advantage.
2019 saw Tyler Esplin’s best season within the Boston Red Sox organization. At one point, he was one of the hottest hitters in their entire system. 2020 is the year he capitalizes on that. A promotion to Double-A could be in his sights. But a chance at climbing up the prospect ranks is the real prize. And that’s why 2020 will be the year of Tyler Esplin.