Where Are You Domingo Santana?

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As I was writing my potential roster for the 2017 World Series Houston Astros, I failed to put two people on the roster. One of them was on purpose and the other one was by accident. The main person I forgot about was Vincent Velazquez, who had a great Arizona Fall League showing. The other person was the Astros #3 (mlb.pipeline) ranked prospect, Domingo Santana. Where are you Domingo?

On November 24, 2015 Baseball America released their preseason 2015 Astros top 10 Prospects and Domingo Santana was no longer in the top 10. Prior to the 2014 season, Domingo was listed as the number 8 Astros top prospect by Baseball America. So what happened? Did the Astros number one pick in 2014 MLB draft take his spot? That would be Brady Aiken who the Astros failed to sign by the deadline, so that’s not why. Where are you Domingo?

Domingo Santana was acquired by the Astros in the Hunter Pence trade as the player to be named later. Since then he has had a great numbers in the minors and was supposed to be a fixture in the Houston Astros lineup for years to come. The projected group of outfielders to roam Minute Maid Park in 2015 will probably be George Springer, Dexter Fowler, and Jake Marisnick. Maybe Santana could make the Astros as a fourth or fifth outfielder, but Alex Presley and Robbie Grossman are almost locks to make the team. How about hitting him in the designated hitter spot? Wait, isn’t the Astros leading home run hitter Chris Carter penciled in that position? Where are you Domingo?

The bottom line with Domingo Santana, is he has yet to collect his first major league hit through 18 plate appearances with one walk and 14 strikeouts. Yes, you read that right, that’s a whopping 78% strikeout percentage. I guess he passes the strikeout test with flying colors. However, he can’t possibly be that bad can he? The answer is probably no, but he will probably start the year at Triple-A, trying to find his groove at the plate. Where are you Domingo?

Lets look at Santana’s minor league strikeout totals, and compare them to his short stint with the big league club.

2009-32%

2010-36%

2011-29%

2012-28%

2013-29%

2014-29%

Looking at his six years in the minors, he has not shown near the 78% strikeout rate he had with the Astros. If you’re wondering how he is a top prospect and still in minors for 6 going on 7 seasons. He signed with the Phillies in 2009 as an amateur free agent at the age of 16 out of the Dominican Republic. He is currently 22 years old, so the Astros can expect more growth from him. Is he on the Astros 2015 opening day roster? Probably not. Where are you Domingo?

According to Vince Lara-Cinisomo prior to his call up on July 1, 2014, What to expect from Domingo Santana? “This season, Santana has whiffed 99 times in 319 at-bats; in 2013, it was 139 strikeouts in 416 at-bats, so expect some stiff winds, whether he connects or not, in his inaugural major league stint. Although athletic, he’s only an average runner, so don’t expect many steals and prior to this season, he was a .268 lifetime hitter, so average likely won’t be a big part of his game. He also possesses a cannon for a throwing arm and his total package evokes comparisons with Jermaine Dye.”

“so expect some stiff winds, whether he connects or not, in his inaugural major league stint.”-Vince Lara-Cinisomo

Further data concerning Domingo Santana, this time from from Scott Strandberg in The Art of Being Almost Ready Volume II:

  • 2013 (Double-A) – 16.5% LD, 41.4% GB, 42.1% FB
  • 2014 (Triple-A) – 26.4% LD, 52.9% GB, 20.7% FB

Santana has a lot of power, and this past year he started hitting less fly balls, and more line drives and ground-balls. Add this trend to striking out at a 29% rate, it is no wonder why he struggled in his stint with the Astros.

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The next step is for Domingo to attend Spring Training with the Astros. He needs to take advantage of facing major league arms as much as manager A.J. Hinch allows him too. Watch how other players approach hitting and learn how to  fill the holes in his swing. It is very unlikely, unless he has a monster spring training, that Santana makes the Astros roster on Opening Day. When and if he gets sent down, he needs to use this opportunity to get everyday at-bats. I still think he will be a middle of the order hitter, whether it is with the Astros or not.

Eventually an outfielder will get hurt, and Santana will once again get the call. Will he be ready this time? Until then, I will continue to ask “where are you Domingo?”

For more Astros info,

Are the Astros After Cole Hamels?

Who will be on 2017 Astros world series roster?

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