At the beginning of last week, IU baseball’s 2020 recruiting class looked to be complete with nine commitments. But on Saturday afternoon, the Hoosiers bolstered its incoming freshman class by adding highly touted middle infielder Tank Espalin.
Espalin, a native of Glendora, California, had been committed to the University of Southern California since eighth grade. However, in mid-June the Trojans released the left-handed hitter from his National Letter of Intent, allowing him to reopen his recruitment.
IU head coach Jeff Mercer immediately jumped at the opportunity to contact Espalin, and Espalin announced his pledge to the Hoosiers within a week of hearing from Mercer.
In a 2019 showcase, Espalin received a 10 from Perfect Game, the recruiting service's highest possible prospect grade. According to Perfect Game’s player rating system, a 10 indicates a “potential very high draft pick and/or elite level college prospect.”
The 6-foot 1-inch recruit attended Orange Lutheran High School, the No. 1 team in the country, according to MaxPreps’ Computer Rankings. In his junior season with the Lancers, Espalin recorded a .268 batting average with a .354 on-base percentage in 21 games.
Though Espalin’s smooth fielding acumen helped garner national attention early on, his ability to hit for contact and reach base consistently landed him on Perfect Game California’s first team All-Region in 2020.
“My scouting report as a hitter would probably be I spray the field and line-drive approach,” Espalin said in an interview with Perfect Game in 2019. “Contact hitter, put the ball in play a lot.”
Espalin’s quick, compact swing will likely allow him to compete with IU senior infielder Jeremy Houston for playing time in his first season. The pair could also form a stout defensive tandem in the middle of the infield if either Houston or Espalin moved to second base.
With the late addition of Espalin, IU’s 2020 recruiting class jumps from No. 77 to No. 59 in the nation, according to Perfect Game.
The Hoosiers’ 10-player freshman class will help to mitigate the loss of outfielder Elijah Dunham, who signed an undrafted free-agent contract with the New York Yankees.