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Houston Astros Prospect: Domingo Santana

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Houston Astros farmhand Domingo Santana has been labeled a top prospect for years. After showing a ton of promise in the minor leagues, he struggled in a brief stint in the Majors in 2014.   The question for Santana is whether or not he can break through to big league success.

Santana was acquired in the Hunter Pence deal in 2011 that saw Pence go to Philadelphia and a bonanza of highly touted prospects head to Houston. The center pieces in that trade for the Astros were likely Jon Singleton and Jared Cosart. However,  the then 18-year old slugger from the Dominican Republic–Santana–was also a shining jewel in the large haul.

At the age of 19, Santana clubbed 23 homers for the Lancaster Jethawks of the California league. He followed that up with a 25 homer season at double-A Corpus Christi as a 20 year-old in 2013. He seemed to be on track for super-stardom as he appeared on virtually every top 100 prospects list. All the hype seemed to be fine for the young outfielder.  He began 2014 in AAA and did not miss a beat. Santana continued to crush minor league pitching to the tune of 16 homers, 81 RBI, and a .296 batting average. Then just 21 years young, the only question was “Could he adjust to hit a big league off-speed pitch?”

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If you followed the rise of George Springer and Jon Singleton through the minor leagues and into their first season as major league players, you saw that these guys could do a lot of damage. However, they were also known for a huge strikeout percentage. Well, Domingo Santana is from that same vein of boom or bust at the plate. In fact, he struck out even more frequently than either Springer or Singleton. His big problem was the breaking ball and in his first taste of the big leagues in 2014, we saw how big a problem it was.

Domingo got his chance to show how much damage he could do with the bat on a grand stage for the Houston Astros in July, but he did not stay long. He played in six games and went hitless in 17 at-bats. It gets worse. 14 of the 17 at-bats ended in a strikeout and if you watched any of those appearances, it was not pretty. He was quickly sent back to triple-A for the rest of the season.   His first cup of coffee – a disaster.

Still, the young slugger was only 21 years-old and plenty can change with a little more experience and a lot more work. Now that the Astros big league club has a glut of outfield options, Houston may not be the place for Domingo to pay off on his promise. He could perhaps get another crack at the majors if Houston suffers a slew of outfield injuries, but his spring has started the same way that his July Houston trip ended. He is 0-10 with 6 punch-outs.  Perhaps there are more deserving options like Preston Tucker who is older and has yet to see any service time with the big club.

Time is on Santana’s side, but if he wants to continue to keep his career on an upward trajectory, he’ll need to learn to keep his weight balanced, hands back and eye on the ball.

Next: Appel Update

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