Performing for the World Team, Escobar pitched the third inning of the Futures Game, which the U.S. won, 3-2. He yielded the game's first run along with three hits and struck a batter with a pitch. But he avoided a disastrous outing by coaxing a harmless fly to right from Kris Bryant, the highly regarded Cubs prospect, to leave the bases loaded.
"It was a good inning for me," said Escobar, who retired Bryant on an inside fastball. "I got into trouble and got out of it."
Escobar wasn't intimidated by the challenge of facing Bryant, ranked eighth by MLB.com among prospects from all 30 teams.
"Everybody's here for a reason," Escobar said. "Everybody here is a good player."
Escobar owns a 3-8 record with a 5.06 ERA in 19 starts for San Francisco's Triple-A Fresno affiliate. He also has struck out 93 batters in 105 innings, indicating that he has maintained his lively stuff. The 22-year-old left-hander entered this year averaging more than a strikeout per inning, accumulating 432 in 419 1/3 innings.
Escobar fared better in 2013, finishing 8-8 with a 2.80 ERA in 26 appearances (24 starts) while dividing his time between Class A Advanced San Jose and Double-A Richmond.
"My numbers aren't like they were last year," said Escobar, rated by MLB.com as the No. 2 prospect in the Giants' system and No. 77 among all organizations. "But I've been working hard and getting experience."
Escobar's work primarily involves learning to repeat his delivery, a must for any accomplished pitcher. This was an issue for him in Spring Training, when he compiled a 5.19 ERA in four Cactus League outings, including three starts.
Facing numerous Triple-A hitters with Major League experience has hastened Escobar's maturity. He has learned that he no longer can get along by throwing fastballs on fastball counts, for example.
"If you make a mistake, they're going to hit the ball and you're going to be in trouble," he said.
Confronting those former big leaguers also has given Escobar an idea of the challenge that's in store when he does ascend to the Majors.
"There's a lot of veteran guys coming down every week from the big leagues," he said. "You get used to it. ... I feel great to be in the league."