IMG Academy baseball program alums continue to shine in the professional ranks. Just this past week, two former student athletes were promoted to their organization Triple A affiliates.
Tyler Pastornicky was a 5th round selection out of IMG Academy in 2008 by the Toronto Blue Jays but spent only a year and a half in their organization before being traded to Atlanta Braves on July 14, 2010. A Florida State League All Star at the time, Pastornicky was immediately promoted to the Braves AA affiliate in Jackson, Mississippi where by most accounts, he is considered young at that level. But the 21 year old shortstop hasn't seemed bothered by the competition or the speed of the game at the next level. In 90 games for the Mississippi Braves this season, he compiled a .299 batting average in 355 at bats. His 106 hits is the most by any player in the Braves minor league system. Other accomplishments include being named to the Southern League All Star team and becoming the first Mississippi Braves player to hit for the cycle.
Paolo Espino was a 10th round selection out of IMG Academy in 2006 by the Cleveland Indians. Unlike Pastornicky, Espino has spent his entire professional career with the Indians and has spent the last two season between AA and AAA. After a mid season call up last year to Columbus, Espino started the championship game for the Clippers and won the 2010 Triple A National Championship. Espino started the 2011 season in AAA but after only two appearances, he was sent to AA Akron where he excelled in a middle relief role. Appearing in 20 games, Espino compiled a 4-0 record with a 2.79 ERA in 71 innings pitched while only allowing 58 hits. His strong performance earned him a trip back to AAA Columbus. In his second appearance, he got the start against Scranton and picked up the win, pitching 5 scoreless innings while allowing only 4 hits and striking out 4. Other accomplishments include EasternLeagueAll Star selection in 2010 and International League pitcher of the week on 8/16/2010. Espino has also pitched in both World Baseball Classics for Team Panama.