The Red Sox selected players with IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) experience in three straight Drafts: since-traded Logan Allen in 2015's eighth round, Jay Groome in 2016's first round and Esplin in 2017's seventh round. An Illinois native who transferred to IMG to focus on baseball in his final two years of high school, he impressed Boston with his power in a pre-Draft workout and signed for an over-slot $250,000. He made his full-season debut in 2019 and batted .253/.326/.375 in low Class A.
Though Esplin has yet to have a breakout season, Boston still believes in his offensive potential and points to his bat speed, strength and relatively compact left-handed stroke. He shows plus raw power during batting practice but doesn't lift the ball in the air enough during games, hitting too many rolled-over grounders to the right side. He has yet to homer off a lefty in pro ball and recorded a .451 OPS against southpaws in 2019, so he may not be more than a platoon player.
Reasonably athletic for a 6-foot-4, 225-pounder, Esplin has lost a step as he has matured physically but still shows close to average speed once he gets going. He needs to maintain his current speed to remain in right field, especially if he gets to Fenway Park. He definitely has the arm for right and pumped fastballs into the low 90s when he pitched as an amateur.
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 45 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Esplin spent his first two high school seasons at Lake Forest (Ill.) Academy before transferring to the IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) to focus on baseball. The move paid off as he impressed the Red Sox with his power in a pre-Draft workout, then passed up a commitment to UNC Charlotte to sign for an over-slot $250,000 as a seventh-rounder last June. Assigned to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, he doubled off rehabbing big leaguer Nick Tepesch for his first pro hit.
Esplin's strength, bat speed and the leverage in his left-handed swing combine to give him the ability to drive the ball out of the park to all fields. For someone who stands 6-foot-4, he has a relatively compact stroke, which bodes well for his ability to hit for average. To do so, he'll need to tighten his strike zone.
A good athlete for a 225-pounder, Esplin presently has average speed, but likely will slow down as he matures physically. He moves well in the outfield and fits well in right field with an arm that delivered fastballs into the low 90s when he pitched in high school.