Brewers sign Espino to Minor League deal

Contract includes invitation to Major League Spring Training

Brewers sign Espino to Minor League deal

MILWAUKEE -- Paolo Espino has pitched at the Triple-A level in each of the past seven seasons. Will 2017 be the year he finally breaks through to the big leagues?

The Brewers are giving the right-handed swingman a shot. They signed Espino, who turns 30 in January, to a Minor League contract that includes an invitation to Major League Spring Training.

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Born in Panama, Espino attended high school in Florida and was a 10th-round Draft pick of the Indians in 2006. He owns a 3.73 ERA and a strikeouts-to-walks ratio of better than three-and-a-half to one over 10 Minor League seasons, including a 3.63 ERA in 85 games (66 starts) over parts of seven years at Triple-A for the Indians and Nationals.

Espino's strength is forcing opponents to hit their way on base. Over the past three seasons in Washington's Minor League system, he has issued only 83 walks in 428 innings. While going 8-11 with a 3.30 ERA at Triple-A Syracuse in 2016, Espino walked 1.7 batters per nine innings. His 1.15 WHIP was fourth-best among pitchers who made at least 20 Triple-A starts.

The Brewers have at least six Major League starting pitchers in Junior Guerra, Zach Davies, Jimmy Nelson, Wily Peralta, Matt Garza and Chase Anderson, plus they have former first-round Draft pick Taylor Jungmann bidding to break back into that group, and top pitching prospect (the Brewers' No. 3 prospect overall, according to Josh Hader coming off a half-season at Triple-A.

But Espino either could compete for a long-relief job or provide depth for the rotation. Last year, Guerra was a waiver claim who contended for a bullpen spot in Spring Training, went to the Triple-A rotation to begin the season, then wound up being the Brewers' most valuable starter following a May promotion to the Majors.

With Espino, the Brewers have added three non-roster invitees to their Spring Training mix, all pitchers. The others are left-hander Stephen Kohlscheen and right-hander Yhonathan Barrios.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.