We’re reviewing all 316 players to have appeared in Houston’s system in 2022.
Rolando Espinosa is a six-foot, 170 lb. infielder from Diego de Avila, Cuba. Born on January 5, 2001, he signed with Houston through free agency for $175,000 on August 21, 2017.
Espinosa played at the rookie level in 2018 and 2019, between the Dominican Summer League and the Gulf Coast League, both of which run from June through August. He appeared in 101 games in total between the two, hitting .183. He also boasted a much more solid .272 on base percentage thanks to a 9.4 percent walk rate.
The 2022 season would open for Espinosa still with the Florida-based rookie-level affiliate, split off to the Orange squad. He collected multiple hits in eight of 45 appearances, including June 21, when he collected three singles in a 4-2 loss to the FCL Mets. After 17 games, he was only hitting .211, but he somehow had racked up a .348 OBP due to his 11 walks in 69 PA. He also totaled 14 stolen bases in 17 attempts. Houston sent him up to the Low-A Fayetteville Woodpeckers on July 2.
Espinosa only appeared four times for the Peckers, going 0-for-9 with three walks and five strikeouts. Sent back down to the rookie level, he put up a much-improved .265/.396/.434 slash over the next 28 games, with four round-trippers and 21 RBI. He also added another 18 stolen bases in 20 attempts. On August 9, he totaled four RBI on a single and a two-run shot in a 10-5 win over the FCL Nats.
Espinosa’s last dozen games of the season were unique in that he not only got a second taste of life in another four games at the Low-A level, but he also played three games for the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks and five games for the Triple-A Sugar Land Space Cowboys. At the higher levels, he was only four-for-34 with another four stolen bases.
So Espinosa completed the 2022 season with an aggregate .208/.339/.339 slashline, along with an FCL-leading six homers, 32 RBI, an FCL-leading 36 stolen bases in 42 attempts, and an FCL-fifth 34 walks in 224 PA. Defensively, he played all over the place. He spent 167 1⁄3 innings at shortstop (.960 fielding percentage), 114 1⁄3 innings at second base (.889), 46 innings in centerfield (1.000), 35 2⁄3 innings at the hot corner (1.000), 28 2⁄3 innings in right field (1.000), 23 innings at first base (.960), and 17 innings in left field (1.000).
Despite Espinosa’s current standing as number 27 in Houston’s organizational infield depth chart (according to baseball reference), Espinosa’s utility lay in his ability to play everywhere. Look for him to start the 2023 season with the Woodpeckers.