Getting to know Chris McElvain, the pitching prospect the Blue Jays received in the Santiago Espinal trade

Photo credit:MiLB.com
Ryley Delaney
28 days ago
The Toronto Blue Jays have made a trade. Of course, that means we’ll do a deep-dive on the newest prospect they’ve acquired.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Blue Jays traded Santiago Espinal for Chris McElvain, a 23-year-old right-handed pitcher. 
Here’s a brief note about Espinal: When the Jays traded Steve Pearce to the Red Sox, the Jays received a pretty important player who filled in fantastically at both third base in 2021 and second base in 2022. Espinal had a rough 2023 and received a lot of unfair hate, but Espinal did a lot of things right, he was just outplayed by Ernie Clement this Spring Training.
Anyway, this article is about McElvain, who was selected in the eighth-round by the Cincinnati Reds in the 2022 draft, five picks ahead of Toronto’s selection, Dylan Rock. McElvain pitched three seasons with Vanderbilt University, posting a 4.33 ERA in 141.1 innings pitched, along with a 26.9 K% and a 12.2 BB%.
McElvain made his professional debut in 2023 with the Daytona Tortugas, where he posted a 3.04 ERA and a 3.61 FIP in 50.1 innings pitched. He started eight of the 12 games he appeared in and had a 25.2 K% and a 9 BB%.
There’s some more information as the Tortugas are in the FSL, which has Baseball Savant’s Statcast available (except at Tortugas home games, very dumb). Last season, he threw a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, changeup, curveball, and slider. The heater averaged 92.7 mph and had a 24.4 whiff%.
He threw a limited number of changeups, but it had a 50% whiff% when thrown, while his slider had a 32.5% whiff% and was his second most used pitch.
The Reds promoted McElvain to High-A, where he had a 4.53 ERA and a 5.30 FIP in 45.2 innings pitched, along with a 16.7 K% and a 10.8 BB%. Unfortunately, no there’s no Statcast data for his tenure in High-A with the Dayton Dragons. Yes, their Single-A team is in Daytona while their High-A team is in Dayton, it’s all very dumb.
McElvain ranked as Fangraphs’ 41st-best Cincinnati Red prospect heading into the 2023 season. They gave him a 40 present value and 45 future value with the fastball, a 55/60 with the slider, a 30/50 with the changeup, and a 30/45 with the command. He also reached 95 mph with the heater and will need to live up in the zone with it, according to Fangraphs’ scouting report.
At the end of the day, it’s nice to pick up a starting pitcher who would have had the eighth-most innings pitched in the Jays organization last season. At the end of the day, Clement beat Espinal for the job and getting anything for Espinal is a good trade.
Best of luck to Espinal moving forward, there’s a good chance he’ll be a starter for the Reds.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D.


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