SS Cristian Santana, Low-A to DSL
This is where not having short-season ball hurts. It’s awfully aggressive putting an 18-year-old in Low-A, but the Tigers didn’t really have a choice.
Santana was a highly-touted shortstop out of the Dominican Republic, and the Tigers inked him to $2.95 million deal in January 2021. He then posted a .941 OPS in the Dominican Summer League last season as a 17-year-old, so you can see why the Tigers made the decision to bump him up to Lakeland.
But he has struggled mightily in 2022. He’s slashing .149/.289/.284 with a .573 OPS. He is currently injured, which doesn’t help, but it’s really tough watching a young kid with as much talent as Santana struggle so much.
Here’s what Pipeline has to say about him:
"“Santana has very strong legs, which provide both the strength of his right-handed swing and the low center of gravity that helps him move smoothly and quickly at short. His above-average bat speed and efficient swing allow him to turn on power pitches and make him difficult to pitch inside. He isn’t afraid to stand up on the plate and was hit by 15 pitches over just 54 games in the DSL. For his power, he doesn’t chase as often as others his age, and he can recognize breaking pitches. He might not make highlight plays at short, but he has the potential to be a reliable defender, earning him comparisons to Jhonny Peralta, though his current build brings some comparisons to former Tigers prospect Willy Adames. Santana has good speed with his leg strength but is still learning how to utilize it on the basepaths.”"
The Jhonny Peralta comparisons are interesting because of his current build, as Pipeline notes. Peralta was considerably bulkier than Santana’s 6-foot, 165 lb stature, although he’ll probably add some weight as he gets older.
Part of me wants the Detroit Tigers to keep Santana in A-ball to see if he can work things out, especially since the injury has taken some at-bats away. But again, at just 18 years old, I think you can send him back down to rookie ball when their season starts back up and not feel too bad about it.