The Chicago Cubs have reportedly signed left-hander relief pitcher Edwin Escobar, who has spent the last seven years pitching in the NPB in Japan.
The now 31-year-old has pitched in the majors before, making 27 combined big-league appearances with the Boston Red Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks back in the mid-2010s.
Escobar was first signed by the Texas Rangers in 2008, as an international free agent out of Venezuela. Following a brief stint in the Rangers’ farm system, Escobar was traded to the San Francisco Giants in 2010, and then was part of the Jake Peavy trade in 2014, when the Red Sox sent the veteran starting pitcher to the Giants. It was during the 2014 season that Escobar reached his peak as a highly-rated prospect, ranking 56th overall according to Baseball America’s pre-season top-100 list and No. 95 according to MLB’s top-100 rankings.
Unfortunately, Escobar didn’t find much consistency in Boston’s system and was later claimed off waivers by the Diamondbacks in 2016. That’s where he made the bulk of his MLB appearances, struggling with Arizona, as he posted a 7.23 ERA in 23.2 innings in 2016.
The Cleveland Indians picked him up during the 2016 offseason, but Escobar was later released so that he could pursue an opportunity overseas in Japan. Escobar first signed with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in Jan. 2017, but after 22.1 innings of work he was traded to the Yokohama DeNA BayStars in the middle of the season.
Escobar has pitched well in Japan, posting a 3.17 ERA in 392.1 innings, almost all of which have been out of the bullpen. He’s averaged about a strikeout per nine innings, while notching down five saves and recording 147 holds as a reliever.
Here’s a look at Escobar pitching in Japan.
As far as a scouting report goes, here’s this quick blurb about Escobar from August.
Via the Japan Times.
The lefty is often among NPB’s hardest-throwing relievers. He was fifth among relief pitchers with an average velocity of 154.1 kph (95.7 mph) last season. He is a tick slower this year but is still one of the hardest throwers in Japan.
Lefty, who kinda has a funky arm slot and can throw about 96mph? Come on down!