The Hunter Pence trade has been talked about a lot recently. The 3-year anniversary of the trade, which occurred July 29, 2011, is coming up in about 6 weeks. By the time the trade deadline comes around this year, the Houston Astros could likely see 4 guys on their 25-man roster from that trade with the Philadelphia Phillies. Domingo Santana is the remaining prospect who has yet to make his MLB debut. But his call is coming. Soon.
Domingo Santana was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies as a non-drafted free agent prior to the 2009 season. They brought him up through their system for two-and-a-half seasons prior to eventually declaring him as the PTBNL in the 2011 trade deadline swap between the Astros and Phillies.
His tenure in the Phillies organization showed flashes of the player that the Astros hope he becomes at the Major League level. In 2009 Santana hit for a .288 batting average with an OBP of .388 in 37 games. He also had 6 home runs in just under 120 at-bats while playing for a rookie level team.
After an impressive stint in his first taste of pro-ball, the young outfielder played at two different levels of class-A ball in 2010. This time around he struggled to hit for average. His rate of homers diminished greatly as well, hitting 8 homers in 351 at-bats. At both levels he showed signs of being a swing-and-miss player, totaling 193 strikeouts in about 550 at-bats between rookie and class-A ball.
The batting average recovered for the 2011 season. The home run clip stayed about the same as he hit 7 homers in 391 at-bats. But the performance was not good enough for the Phillies to decline involving him in the trade. When Santana joined the Astros then A+ affiliate, Domingo became scorching hot. In his 17 game debut as a member of the Astros organization, Santana hit 5 homers while slashing .382/.447/.662.
Perhaps the only concern about Santana was his tendency to strike out. Though this is still a legitimate reason for concern, he has struck out 697 times in 2,022 at-bats (34.47%), the overall results show that there is tremendous potential moving forward. Again through 2022 at bats, Santana has homered approximately once every 24 at-bats throughout parts of 6 seasons in the minor leagues. These are reasons why Jeff Luhnow and his team added him to the 40-man roster last November.
Many players were eligible to be selected from the Rule 5 Draft. Luhnow protected Santana, an acquisition of Ed Wade.
Domingo Santana has continued to show inconsistent results at the plate. Entering the 2014 season he was ranked as the Astros #7 prospect. His batting average has varied tremendously between levels in the Astros system. But if anything is certain about the Santana that the Astros will see in the majors, it is his power. He has hit 59 homers while being in the Astros organization. This includes the 11 he has hit for the Redhawks this season.
Right now the Astros are pretty much locked in terms of center field and right field. The city of Houston loves Dexter Fowler and George Springer will get out of his current funk. He is young talent after all. Robbie Grossman showed glimpses of the player that he can be for a while. But he has cooled off again. Changes are going to be made soon for the Astros. This years’ road to October is in reach for nearly every team in MLB right now. Maybe the Astros can get there.
First they have to get to .500 baseball. Promoting Santana soon might be premature. After all he is still just 21 years old. Wow, isn’t that shocking? Regardless his hitting has had time to develop in the minor leagues and it appears that he is ready for the next step. Utilizing him in left field now would give him MLB experience and help make the decision if he can be an MLB outfielder. The American League also gives the Astros the option to give him at-bats as the designated hitter.