As strong and as deep as the Dodgers‘ farm system is considered, there are a few spots that may be little light on talent. The middle infield sticks out the most, but the system also lacks a solid third baseman who has both a capable bat and an impressive glove. Sure, there are guys like Edwin Rios and Matt Beaty, but the absence of outstanding defensive ability may be the biggest factor in keeping players like these from thriving at the big league level.
Nevertheless, there is one prospect still on the lower-levels of the farm who could eventually fit the bill of a complete package. Cristian Santana is a natural third baseman, but his glove is so good that he can capably handle second base and shortstop to boot.
And his bat isn’t half bad, either.
As a 17 year old, Santana was signed by the Dodgers as a free agent out of the Dominican Republic in the spring of 2014. He remained on his native soil and played in the Dominican Leagues for two years before finally heading to the states in 2016, when he smacked eight long balls in 44 games for the Arizona League Dodgers in rookie ball.
Santana’s 2017 campaign may have been the beginning of his offensive eruption. He began the year with Ogden in the Pioneer League, hitting a ridiculous .537/.583/1.000 with five home runs over 48 plate appearances, earning the league’s Player of the Week honors in late June. From there, it didn’t take the farm directors long to promote the youngster to Low-A Great Lakes, where he slashed an impressive .322/.339/.460 with another five homers over 44 contests.
For High-A Rancho in the Cal League last season, Santana slashed .274/.302/.447 with an impressive 23 doubles, 24 long balls and 109 RBI. He earned Cal League Player of the Week honors in early August and was named an MiLB.com organizational All-Star at season’s end.
Now at just 22 years of age, the 6’2″ right-handed hitting Santana has begun his 2019 campaign with Double-A Tulsa in the pitcher-friendly confines of the Texas League, which could, in theory, showcase his outstanding skills at the dish even more. Through the first 23 games of the year, he’s hitting .330/.351/.451 with three homers and 14 RBI.
MLB Pipeline already has Santana ranked as the 26th best prospect in the Dodgers system, but although he has feasted on opposing pitching at the lower-levels of minor league ball, there are still a few areas of his game which he needs to develop in order to blossom.
First, he’s a free swinger, and he’ll need to establish a little more discipline at the plate if he wants to flourish on the upper-levels of the farm. The good news is that he does have the ability to make relatively consistent contact. He does have a lot of body movement happening in his pre-swing activities, but many scouts believe that he’ll eventually quiet his approach to succeed at the higher levels. However, based on what he’s shown so far, especially his ability to barrel-up the ball, there’s no reason to think that he won’t continue to impress, particularly at the Double-A level.
On defense, he’s a bit more advanced, as some already believe he has the capability to be an above-average defender at the hot corner. He has excellent quickness and range, and his arm strength is probably his best defensive asset. In addition, his ability to handle multiple infield spots could potentially boost his acceleration through the system.
Even at his current rate of production and maturity, Santana’s probably around two to three seasons away from making his big league debut. For now, though, followers of the Drillers should have an enjoyable year watching the youngster mash in the middle of the Tulsa lineup in 2019.
12 thoughts on “Dodgers Prospect Watch: A Closer Look at Cristian Santana”
I saw him play last year. He was really impressive. Hit a couple of balls right on the screws and made a couple good plays too.
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Really nice to hear we have someone who might be able to step in when JT is no longer any everyday player. As you mentioned, Dennis, Rios and Beaty have good bats but they aren’t exactly magicians with the glove. Let’s hope that Santana makes enough progress that we see him here by 2021.
I think it’s all gonna boil down to plate discipline.
Well we are going to find out if Verdugo is really the future or not. I don’t see Pollock coming back before July 1st so CF is all his for 2 months. I’m confident he will rise to the occasion.
Bear, who’s the new guy writing today’s article?
You are kidding right? Dennis is the site administrator……I just did a guest bit…Judging from the responses, I will when the right subject that I am versed on, do it again.
Kidding! Can’t wait for your next article. Roberts might be a good subject. Dennis, what do u think of Vargas?
I think we might have done a story on Vargas last year. I’ll need to do some digging.
I don’t know any of those prospects that well but what I’ve read about them tells me all of them are athletic so they have the physical tools to play third base. And this is what I know about playing infield defense – if you can hit a good curve ball with a bat, you can catch a grounder with a glove. Defense is about putting the time in. The guy who wants it more will put the extra time in learning to play defense.
Santana is intriguing, but ranked 26th in the system tells me he has a long way to go. That said, I believe Beaty is ranked below him. I don’t believe Beaty will stick, but his numbers at AAA suggest he could impress. Rios is 24 and rated a B- prospect.
Ok, I read up on all these guys. Santana has been in the system 5 years, and at 22, now is the time to make the leap forward.
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 40 | Arm: 65 | Field: 50 | Overall: 40
When looking at the Top 100 MLB prospects, if we are to believe they are actually the top prospects in baseball, the NL West is well represented, though the Dodgers are not as highly ranked as are the Padres. We have 4, dbacks 3, Padres 10. I believe our strength is who we have on the field now.