When I first saw Raynel Espinal in 2016 he was playing for the Staten Island Yankees. I was immediately impressed by his 6’3” 200 plus pound frame. He has a low 3/4 arm slot with a loose arm and an easy delivery. His arsenal includes a low-to-mid 90s fastball and a mid-80s slider with solid break. With average to above-average control he induces a good amount of swings and misses. Espinal profiles as a spot starter and swingman. He made 18 appearances in Triple-A last year (12 starts), striking out more than a batter per inning with an ERA of 4.32. He is currently working his way back from Tommy John surgery he had in in July. After the Rule 5 draft I was able to reach out to Espinal who was taken by the Red Sox in the Triple-A phase from the Yankees organization. He was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions I sent him. Thank you and best of luck to Raynel with the Red Sox. I’m sorry to see him leave the Yankees organization. If you would like to follow Raynel on Twitter his handle is @RaynelEspinal.
PW: Who scouted you and how did it come about that you signed with the Yankees?
RE: The Scout was Alturito Pena, nephew of Tony Pena. I don’t know how he heard about me but, he came to see me play and introduced me to his boss.
PW: Did any other team give you an offer or talk to you and your agent?
RE: Yes. Texas, Marlins, Cleveland Indians, Pirates, Tampa Bay Rays, Brewers, Padres, Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Twins, and Washington Nationals.
PW: What kind of emotion did you have after signing?
RE: Glad because the Yankees were giving me a chance to be part of them.
PW: Can you tell us about your experience in the Yankees system?
RE: It was a good experience for me because they gave me many opportunities and trusted me from day one. And I learned a lot from the rules of how to be a Yankee.
PW: How do you prepare differently when you start compared to when you relieve? You started 12 games last year after being mainly a reliever since signing with the Yankees.
RE: I’ve always prepared myself as a starter no matter if I was a reliever because my preparation was never to play one or two innings. The only difference was that I knew what batters I would be facing that day and study them before the game.
PW: Can you tell us a special moment or moments that stand out to you in your minor league career?
RE: How I reached Triple A in 1 year and 10 months of traveling. In June 2016 I traveled for the first time and in April 2018 I was playing in Triple-A. I don’t forget all those times that they called me in the office to tell me I’ve been called up to the next league.
RE: In Double-A I remember a game that I had bases loaded and then I got 3 strikeouts and finished that inning with 0 ER.
PW: In what area do you feel you’ve improved the most since signing? What would you like to improve now?
RE: My fastball has improved the most. I would like to improve my slider.
PW: Tell us about your Rule 5 experience. How did you find out the Red Sox took you and how did you feel about that?
RE: Surprised, because I am recovering from my Tommy John surgery. A Yankee scout called me and let me know but I just laughed and told him he’s crazy, because I’m in recovery, and I didn’t believe it until a few minutes later the Red Sox called me. I was excited that they were giving me a chance and wanted me to be part of the Boston Red Sox organization.
PW: What’s your expectation for this coming year?
RE: First recover well and continue doing what I love. Also, keep working hard and do my best to be a better player.
PW: Favorite activity besides baseball?
RE: Playing pool.
PW: Any words of wisdom for a young player?
RE: Never give up. Have dedication and do everything with love. You choose what you want to be in this world. If you want to be a professional baseball player you have to do what is necessary and more than what is necessary to be what you want to be. Working extra is what differentiates you from others.
PW: Do you have any rituals that you must perform before a game and why?
PW: Anything you would like Red Sox fans to know about you?
RE: I love what I do and I will do my best for them to see and enjoy a great game.
PW: How are you healing up from Tommy John?
RE: I’m recovering very well and I feel good. My recovery is going as planned.
Again a huge thank you to Raynel for taking the time to answer my questions. I’m hoping to be able to reach out to more Yankees or former Yankees players in the future and do little interviews with them as well. It always interests me to pick players’ minds and hear about their back story.