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July 2, 2014

The Call-Up

Domingo Santana

by Ron Shah and Mauricio Rubio


The Situation: On Sunday, Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow indicated that Domingo Santana (the no. 8-ranked prospect in the system entering 2014) still had some developing to do in Triple-A. But with outfielder Dexter Fowler finding himself on the 15-day disabled list, the Astros have a need for an outfielder already on the 40-man roster. Checking off both of those prerequisites, Santana was summoned to the big leagues from Triple-A Oklahoma City and debuted with a three-strikeout, 0-for-4 performance on Tuesday.

Background: Santana, acquired by the previous regime in Houston, came to the Astros as the fourth and final piece of the trade that sent outfielder Hunter Pence to the Philadelphia Phillies. Santana didn’t become a member of the Astros organization until two weeks after the trade went down, having originally been listed as player to be named later. But it's still puzzling that the Astros were able to acquire Santana, who has been tapping into his raw power since entering pro ball as a 16-year-old. It might have been a mistake on Philadelphia’s part, and not in the figurative sense, if you believe this report (and not this denial).

The Scouting: Santana’s profile is centered on his big raw power potential from the right side, which is a rare commodity in the game today. The 21-year-old generates his raw power from massive strength and leverage in his swing, with the credit going to his 6-foot-5, 230-pound build. Santana can put on a show in batting practice, and he even has some talent evaluators grading his raw power at 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale.

As is the case with many players who show comparable raw power, there are concerns about much of Santana’s pop will show up in games in the majors. With the hit tool grading out at below average (a 40 on the 20-80 scouting scale), the power potential could be prevented from reaching its absolute value.

While Santana is capable of working his way into deep counts, the swing-and-miss in his stick and his selectivity issues can leave him vulnerable. Pitchers can take advantage of Santana by beating him inside, especially when he doesn’t shorten up on his stroke. While his long limbs create leverage in his swing, he struggles to tuck them in and get to offerings on the inner third. On the other hand, Santana can do his damage on offerings left over the middle or on the outside third of the plate. He shows a tremendous ability to tap into his raw power when going the other way.

Santana can provide value elsewhere, too, but mostly from a positional standpoint. He isn’t blessed with fleetness of foot, but he shows better athleticism than most players his size. Combined with his plus arm strength, Santana can play right field without being a liability.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article What You Need to Know:... (07/02)
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Premium Article The Call-Up: Mookie Be... (06/30)
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Premium Article The Call-Up: Arismendy... (07/09)
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