The foundation of David Espinosa's inspiration to becoming a fine ballplayer can be easily traced as far back to his formative years as prep school all-star at Miami-Gulliver High School in Florida.
It was there, baseball coach and mentor Rich Hoffman, was a huge influence on Espinosa with his teachings, not only about the game of baseball, but life in general. In fact, many of Hoffman's ideals that were instilled in Espinosa and many of his teammates at a young age, were so influential, that he carries many of those principles as a motivator even today, as a member of the Toledo Mud Hens.
"I still think back to when we all played for him. Everyone on those teams was so totally dedicated to him and his program, that many of the things he taught us, I'm still applying to baseball and life every day" says Espinosa.
Espinosa is enjoying his first full season with the Mud Hens carrying a .257 batting average along with 29 hits, 14 walks and 17 runs score [5/21/06] not exactly great numbers that Espinosa is accustom to producing.
"I'm not where I really think I should be at this point of the season", admits Espinosa. "I obviously want to work to achieve the kind of stats I had last year with the Sea Wolves."
Besides improving his batting stats, Espinosa is looking to reduce the number of strikeouts from last year and work toward becoming more of a consistent hitter with a high on-base-percentage.
Espinosa spent the last two seasons with Double-A Erie , racking up some very impressive numbers including 248 hits, 92 RBI's ,scoring 155 runs, which incidentally earned him a mid season promotion to Toledo for 17 games from mid-June through the first half of July.
"I was excited given the chance to play here for a bit last year" says Espinosa. "It gave me an opportunity to show what I could do at this level and I think it really paid off."
Another interesting statistic in Espinosa's repertoire has been his high average of base-on balls throughout his minor pro career in which he attributes to having a good eye at the plate.
"I do draw a lot of walks and one part of my hitting I've always been proud of, is my ability to really see the ball well," claims Espinosa which accounts for 154 walks in 2004 through 2005.
Espinosa was born in Caracas, Venezuela, before moving with his family to Miami, Florida.
In 1999, Espinosa was a member of the USA, gold medal winning team at the World Junior Championships held in Taiwan that fall, claiming it was one of the most exciting, but interesting experiences he has faced in his young baseball career.
"It was a real test of endurance for our team to say the least" recalls Espinosa with a laugh. "Besides the 22 hour flight each way, the terrible food and adverse conditions we faced, we all stuck together and pulled it off beating Chinese Taipei to win."
Following his impressive prep-school baseball career while at Miami-Gulliver, he was named by Baseball America to the 2000 First -Team All American High School Team that summer just prior to being selected in the first round of the pro draft by the Cincinnati Reds.
The 24 year old outfielder began his pro career with the Red's Single-A affiliate, the Dayton Dragons in 2001 for one season, before moving out to the West Coast League to play Class-A Advanced with the Stockton Ports in 2002.
Before ever playing a single game in Dayton, Espinosa was named the fifth best prospect in the Reds organization, but it was in Stockton, where his future with the Reds took a turn following a lower back injury that suddenly forced him on the DL in August that year, forcing him to miss the remainder of the season.
"I kept telling them I wasn't healthy and something was wrong with my back" claims Espinosa. "I had good start that season and they kept me in the lineup everyday almost like they didn't believe me, and it got to the point where I just had to sit. I really believe, for what ever reason, that was the beginning of the end for me there. The next thing I know I'm traded to the [Detroit] Tigers."
Espinosa became part of the Detroit Tigers organization on July 23, 2003 as part of a trade that included, then Tigers starter Brian Moehler, going to Cincinnati.
"To be honest I was real happy when I heard that I was coming here," says Espinosa. "For one, I knew I was coming to a first rate organization in Detroit and two, it gave me a chance to get back to the midwest and a little more closer to home."
Now with Toledo and no re-occurrence of any back problems to speak of, Espinosa has done a great job in manager Larry Parrish's starting outfield and finds himself in the lineup for most games which is the way he likes it.
"It's a privilege to play everyday even at this level" says Espinosa who compares the words of Parrish similar to that of coach Hoffman from an earlier time, that you have approach each game like your playing in the big leagues everyday.
"Every time I step on that diamond I give it my all. It's pretty simple. If you want to play in the majors, there is only one way to get there," says Espinosa. "And that is to earn it."