Santiago Espinal took an unusual path to becoming an MLB All-Star.
The 2012 Lyman High graduate is a late addition to the American League roster in place of injured Houston Astros second baseman José Altuve for Tuesday’s 8 p.m. game at Dodger Stadium. Espinal, in his third season with the Toronto Blue Jays, received the news Saturday morning during a team meeting.
“It’s a testament to how hard he’s worked,” former Lyman coach David Pringle told the Orlando Sentinel on Monday.
“Santiago is the best player I’ve ever coached, hands down,” Pringle said. “His actions on the ballfield are instinctual. Even when he was in high school you could see how much better he was than everyone else.”
A native of the Dominican Republic who moved to Seminole County as a teenager, Espinal made his mark at Miami Dade College before being drafted in the 10th round by the Boston Red Sox in 2016. He was traded to the Blue Jays two years later and made his major-league debut during the 2020 season.
“The majority of people have counted him out his whole life, but that’s never changed his work ethic or his positive attitude,” Pringle said. “Santiago has been working hard for years.”
Espinal is one of five players from the Orlando area’s high school Class of 2012 who have appeared in major league games this season, including Zach Eflin (Hagerty), Tomás Nido (Orangewood Christian), Edwin Rios (Osceola) and Jesse Winker (Olympia).
Winker, in his first year with the Seattle Mariners, joins Minnesota’s Nick Gordon and Texas’ Brad Miller as former Olympia players currently with big-league clubs. Baltimore’s Ryan Mountcastle, Detroit’s Riley Greene and Eflin all hail from Hagerty.
Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez, a 1982 Lake Howell grad, will be in the National League dugout Tuesday as an honorary all-star assistant alongside the Atlanta Braves’ coaching staff.
Below is a list of high school graduates from Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake and southwest Volusia counties who have been the most active area players or coaches in the majors so far during the 2022 season.
Zach Eflin, Hagerty, Philadelphia Phillies
Buzz: Eflin has been sidelined since June 25 with a bruised knee. In his 7th season with Phillies, he has a 3-5 (4.37 ERA) record in 13 starts with 56 strikeouts in 68 innings pitched.
Logan Gilbert, Wekiva, Seattle Mariners
Buzz: The 14th overall pick out of Stetson University in 2018, Gilbert owns a 10-3 record and 2.76 ERA with 104 strikeouts in 111 innings. His 19 starts leads the majors.
Austin Gomber, West Orange, Colorado Rockies
Buzz: Gomber debuted with St. Louis Cardinals in 2018 before securing a rotation spot last year in Colorado. He’s 5-7 (5.97 ERA) this season with 67 strikeouts in 87 innings.
Zack Greinke, Apopka, Kansas City Royals
Buzz: A 6-time all-star playing in his 19th MLB season and second stint with the Royals, Greinke carries a 3-6 record (4.64 ERA) in 15 starts with 42 strikeouts through 77⅔ innings.
Brady Singer, Eustis, Kansas City Royals
Buzz: A 1st-round pick (No. 18) out of Florida in 2018, Singer is in his 3rd season in Kansas City, where he is 4-3 (4.02 ERA) in 14 appearances with 69 strikeouts in 71⅔ innings.
Nick Fortes, DeLand, Miami Marlins
Buzz: A walkoff homer vs. the New York Mets on June 26 is highlight of 26 games played this season. Fortes is batting 18-for-71 (.254) with 9 RBIs and 7 extra-base hits.
Tomás Nido, Orangewood Christian, New York Mets
Buzz: Nido went 4-for-4 with 3 RBIs in a win vs. the Washington Nationals on June 1. He entered the break batting 35-for-166 (.211) in 58 games with 15 RBIs and 9 walks.
Ryan Mountcastle, Hagerty, Baltimore Orioles
Buzz: He has logged 4 hits in a game twice in his third season with Orioles. Mountcastle is batting 84-for-311 (.270) with 46 RBIs, 14 home runs and 40 runs scored.
Santiago Espinal, Lyman, Toronto Blue Jays
Buzz: The third-year player turned in a 16-game hit streak in May. Espinal earned an all-star nod after batting 88-for-325 (.271) with 37 RBIs, 6 HRs, 21 doubles and 33 runs scored.
Brendan Rodgers, Lake Mary, Colorado Rockies
Buzz: He belted three home runs vs. the Miami Marlins on June 1 during a 20-game hit streak. Rodgers is batting 83-for-319 (.260) with 47 RBIs, 9 HRs, 20 doubles and 41 runs scored.
Brad Miller, Olympia, Texas Rangers
Buzz: Splitting time between third base and left field in his 10th MLB season, Miller has tallied 29 RBIs and 9 home runs while batting 38-for-184 (.207) in 65 games.
Francisco Lindor, Montverde Academy, New York Mets
Buzz: An all-star in four straight seasons with the Cleveland Indians from 2016-19, Lindor is 89-for-359 (.248) with 66 RBIs, 16 HRs, 12 doubles and 54 runs in his second year with the Mets.
Nick Gordon, Olympia, Minnesota Twins
Buzz: Gordon is on pace for a career year in his second season with the Twins while batting 51-for-198 (.258) with 13 RBIs, 16 extra-base hits and 23 runs scored in 73 games.
Riley Greene, Hagerty, Detroit Tigers
Jesse Winker, Olympia, Seattle Mariners
Buzz: An All-Star last year with the Cincinnati Reds, Winker is 70-for-305 (.230) with 35 RBIs, 8 home runs, 13 doubles, 51 walks and 28 runs scored in his first season in Seattle.
Edwin Rios, Osceola, Los Angeles Dodgers
Buzz: A hamstring injury has sidelined Rios since early June. A World Series winner with Dodgers in 2020, he’s batting 21-for-86 (.244) with 17 RBI and 12 runs scored in 27 games.
Dave Martinez, Lake Howell, Washington Nationals
Buzz: Martinez led the Nationals to the 2019 World Series title and is now three wins away from his 300th career victory in five seasons in Washington. The Nats are 31-63 at the break.
Oliver Marmol, Dr. Phillips, St. Louis Cardinals
Buzz: In his first season as a major-league manager, Marmol and the Cardinals sit in second place in the NL Central Division behind Milwaukee (50-43) with a 50-44 record.