STATESBORO, Ga. (WTOC) - In New York City, Daniel Espino smiled.
In Statesboro, his teammates cheered.
The right-handed pitcher for Statesboro’s Georgia Premier Academy was drafted by the Cleveland Indians with the 24th overall selection Monday night. It’s the culmination of a dream that he left his home country of Panama to chase in the United States.
“It feels great,” Espino told MLB Network’s Kelly Nash seconds after being drafted. “But all of the honor and glory is for God. Without Him, I wouldn’t be standing here.”
As Espino, donned in a hat and jersey of his new team, hugged his family, his teammates back in Statesboro celebrated.
Georgia Premier Academy hosted a small draft party at their headquarters in Statesboro Monday night, all hoping to see Espino selected in the first round. When MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred read his name as the 24th selection, the room lit up.
“Man, we’re just so excited to know where he’s going to be now. It’s such a relief to know that Daniel’s going to be playing pro ball in Cleveland,” says Georgia Premier Academy general manager Tony Ross. “We’re just so excited for him. Hey, we’re going to be Cleveland fans for Daniel Espino.”
Espino dominated with Georgia Premier. In nine starts this season, Espino posted a 9-0 record and 0.32 ERA in 44 innings with 109 strikeouts. He walked just nine batters all year.
His fastball was rated by some draft experts as the best in the 2019 draft class. Espino can touch 100 miles per hour with the pitch.