Espinal wins minor league gold glove

From Mirror reports

Curve first baseman Edwin Espinal has been named a minor league Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner following a perfect season in the field.

Espinal was the only first baseman in the minors this season to post a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage. He played 81 games at first base for the Curve, recording 698 putouts and 67 assists. He carried his perfection to Triple-A Indianapolis following a promotion on July 28, playing 27 more games at first base without committing an error.

“I work very hard on my defense where everyone, including my teammates, can notice my effort,” Espinal said in a team statement.

Espinal broke the Curve record for best fielding percentage by a first baseman, surpassing the previous mark of .995 set by Justin Howard (2013), Simon Pond (2006) and Josh Bonifay (2005). He also became the first Altoona infielder at any position in team history to post a perfect fielding percentage with at least 75 games played.

“I always work hard on my defense,” Espinal said. “My father told me, ‘If you’re not good at hitting, then you have to play defense, because you can still be the key to the game.’ That’s always my mentality. I’m very thankful and proud.”

The Rawlings Gold Glove Award is awarded to nine recipients, one for each position, across players from the 10 domestic-based, full-season minor leagues. Each player will receive his own Rawlings Gold Glove Award modeled after the iconic award given to Major League Baseball’s top defensive players.

A 23-year-old native of Mao Valverde, Dominican Republic, Espinal was selected as the Curve’s Most Valuable Player this season, while also adding an Eastern League Postseason All-Star selection as the league’s top first baseman and his second consecutive EL midseason All-Star nod.

Along with his defensive work, Espinal posted his best offensive season to date, clubbing a career-best 86 RBIs, which led all Pirates minor leaguers, while tallying a career high with 15 homers, tied for fourth in the system. He also posted the best batting average of his career at .294, tied for fourth in the Pirates’ system among full-season minor leaguers.