Tony Santillan, RHP, CIN

You thought 2020 was bad, meet Tony Santillan’s 2019…

Video courtesy of RedsMinorLeagues
  • Born: April 15, 1997
  • B/T: Right/Right
  • 6’3″, 240-lbs
  • Drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 2015 MLB June Amateur Draft from Seguin HS (Arlington, TX)

The Numbers

His raw numbers are listed above courtesy of baseball-reference.com. Let’s aggregate by year then focus on the important numbers for minor leaguers:

When you see a full line of red, either the player is on his way out of baseball at the age of 38, or there needs to be an explanation for what happened.

Santillan never had great command, but when a walk rate doubles from year to year, you start asking questions. One possible answer is that 2019 saw Derek Johnson installed as the new Major League, and organization-wide went a new pitching philosophy. No doubt Santillan had some adjustments to make. He also has a trip to the injured list with a triceps strain.

Basically, everything went wrong at once. 2020 was to be a key year for Santillan to demonstrate that he was back on track. Now on the 60-man, he is getting instruction, but not much game play.

Faced almost exactly the same number of batters who batted right as batted left, and sure enough the number of HRs given up was the same, as were the number of walks, and just about the number of strikeouts. Mirror images. It’s the hits that killed him against righties. You could live with the 1.32 ERA against lefties.

More hits = more runs, and that’s the story of 2019 for him.

You can see how he is a balanced pitcher. The skill numbers were the same against both types of hitters.

Up and down, up and down, up and down, uh, down, down, uh, down, down, DOWN! Yeah, 2019 was ugly and it never stopped getting worse.

Santillan throws three pitches, but he was experimenting with a curve early in 2019, but then the whole year goes to hell and he just hangs on with what he knew worked. It’s a FB/SL combo that he uses, and both of which are plus. He has a changeup, but has trouble repeating delivery of it. That’s the pitch he needs to improve to survive as a starter at the higher levels.

The Scouts

Warnings

Barely peeps through any of the scout’s lists, and 2019 certainly didn’t help.

If he’s healthy, and he has mastered the new pitching philosophy, can we cut the walks in half? That would help.

Let’s see that changeup improved, please.

Conclusion

Tony still has the makings of a back-of-the-rotation starter. When you have a plus FB and a plus SL, you work with the guy to get the command improved. He’s only 23, so there’s time, but at this rate it looks like 2021 is the year where he really gets to demonstrate he is back on the right track. I believe in him, but now I need to same game action before I buy back in.

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