Nats’ top prospects - No. 3: Danny Espinosa

Making a big splash for the Nationals in September 2010 was shortstop/second baseman Danny Espinosa. The Long Beach State product smacked three homers and had 10 RBIs in his first five games, including a dramatic grand slam, getting the home crowd pumped for the future of an Ian Desmond/Espinosa double-play combination in the middle of the Nationals’ infield.

Espinosa followed up his September debut with an impressive run in Puerto Rico during the winter, hitting .281 with six doubles, two triples, three homers and eight RBIs in 22 games. His slugging percentage was strong at .483.

Baseball America also has noticed Espinosa’s rapid rise to the top of the Nats’ prospect list, and they have him locked in as the franchise’s No. 3 prospect.

Aaron Fitt of Baseball America said Espinosa comes from a solid college pedigree.

“(Long Beach State) is a shortstop factory with Troy Tulowitzki, Bobby Crosby and Evan Longoria played shortstop for a year when he was there,” Fitt said. “Espinosa is the next guy in that progression. He is a good ballplayer. The instincts play up. He has got surprising pop for a smaller guy because he has really quick wrists.”

Fitt says Espinosa can get on base and make things happen from any spot in the lineup.

“I think he is going to have a lot of doubles,” Fitt said. “He will give you 10, 15 maybe 20 home runs a year.”

Fitt feels the Nats will be better defensively with Ian Desmond cutting down on errors and Espinosa protecting the second base side of the infield.

“I think (Espinosa) is a really good defensive player,” Fitt said. “I think he could play shortstop. He has a really strong arm. The range isn’t the top of the scale, but it is solid. I think he will probably settle in at second base next to Desmond or they could swap those guys if they need to. But it is a nice position to be in.”

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