Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Welcome to the Blue, Dennis Santana!

Originally signed as a 17-year old shortstop out of the Dominican Republic, Dennis Santana is now poised to make his Major League debut in a Dodger uniform as a pitcher soon. Per his own tweet, he was called at midnight and told to jump on a plane to Los Angeles. He's a big leaguer now! Per a Dodger press release:
The Los Angeles Dodgers today placed right-handed pitcher Kenta Maeda on the 10-day disabled list with a right hip strain and recalled right-handed pitcher Dennis Santana (#77) from Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Santana, 22, who will make his first appearance on a Major League roster, has split the season between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A OKC, going 1-3 with a 2.54 ERA (14 ER/49.2 IP) and held hitters to a .196 average in a combined 10 starts. He has struck out a combined 65 batters against just 16 walks in 49.2 innings, while posting a 1.05 WHIP. The Dominican Republic native started the year with the Drillers, going 0-2 with a 2.56 ERA (11 ER/38.2 IP) and struck out 51 batters against 14 walks, while limiting the opposition to a .183 average in eight starts. Santana was promoted to the OKC Dodgers on May 18 and made his Triple-A debut the next day with a start against Nashville, allowing just three hits over 6.0 scoreless innings and striking out 11 without issuing a walk to record the win. In two starts with Oklahoma City, he has gone 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA (3 ER/11.0 IP) and has punched out 14 against two walks.
It's unfortunate that he's coming to town because of Maeda's injury. Nevertheless, it'll be fun to see what the kid can do. BTW, Doug Padilla provided some personal information on twitter about Santana that I found funny:
As for his role with the team right now, I suspect he'll be coming out of the bullpen (especially considering the workload the bullpen has experienced of late). Per a Baseball Prospectus scouting report:
Mechanics -- Long 6-foot-2, heavier than listed 160, body's a little soft, but has some elasticity, loose movement; full wind; deep arm action, spine tilt towards center, uphill arm path, slingshot action, significant extension to three-quarter slot; delivery re-worked to open hips more, get more on-line and downhill, had landed closed and inverted with significant crossfire around front side, now still mildly closed, much more north-south; lower half doesn't finish, lands stiff and firm, cuts off, finishes square, loose recoil on deceleration; can run on him, deliberate first move, 1.33-1.51; low-fi, stays consistent, keeps his focus. 
Fastball -- Flashed 94-96 (t97) first couple innings of the season, has settled down to 92-95; sink, above-average 2-seam run, works the low-and-away corner with it to lefties, lots of grounders, elevates more to righties, attacks the hands; command can get loose, solid-average control projection. 
Overall -- Santana has a solid, moving fastball with some velo that can play against right- and left-handed hitters, and there are two workable secondaries. He still throws like a position player and generates a tough pick-up with good raw stuff. Command and consistency may take some time in the high minors, but the frame looks to be pretty durable and it's not a high-stress delivery. There's a non-zero chance this guy starts some games in the big leagues. I like him as a reliable bullpen arm who can swing, with some leverage opportunity if the velo ticks up as it has previously flashed with adrenaline.
David Hood at True Blue LA adds more:
Santana will flash a real plus slider that isn’t quite in the realm of Buehler or Yadier Alvarez’s versions but generates plenty of swing and miss in its own right. He can play with the shape and speed of the pitch, sometimes appearing to have 11-5 curve shape. The slider is less consistent than the sinker, as he will lose command and shape when fatigued and dropping his arm slot too low. 
Santana will throw a changeup that is effective from his slot with plus fade. He generally doesn’t need the pitch given the life on the other two offerings, but increasing the use of the pitch during 2018 should prepare him for the eventual jump to the major leagues.
Oh... And he values his breathing. Per JP Hoornstra at the OC Register:
Asked what he spent the year working on, Santana said “breathing.” 
“If I don’t breathe right, then the ball starts going everywhere,” he explained through an interpreter. “There’s a difference between a pitcher and a thrower. A thrower can just throw anywhere. The pitcher is the one who can find his location, hit his spots. That’s the biggest difference. That’s where I try to focus.”
Santana already has a robust twitter following. Check him out here: @DennisSantanaRD.

In honor of his ascension to the ranks of a Major League pro I made a couple of fantasy Baseball cards of him that you can see at the top of this post.

* Please follow on twitter @ernestreyes *
* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *

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