Detroit Tigers: Cristian Santana has the tools that excite

Tyler Kotila
Tigers infield prospect Cristian Santana fields grounders during Minor League spring training.
Tigers infield prospect Cristian Santana fields grounders during Minor League spring training. / Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK
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Detroit Tigers infield prospect Cristian Santana has plenty to like.

The Detroit Tigers brought in Cristian Santana as an international signing in January of 2021. Ever since he was signed and brought into the organization, he was dropped into the team's top cluster of prospects.

According to MLB dot com's rankings refresh, Santana was labeled the 11th-best prospect in the Detroit Tigers farm system. The 19-year-old hails from the Dominican Republic and stands 6-foot, 165 pounds.

The right-handed hitting infielder is listed as a shortstop, second, and third baseman on his Baseball-Reference. With the size, he'll likely profile as a middle infielder, but the tools at the dish are indeed exciting.

If he can continue to stick as he moves through the organization as a shortstop or second base, things will work out well for him. He's fresh off of a 2022 season where he was in Florida with the Tigers Rookie-Ball and Single-A affiliates.

Santana played for the Single-A Lakeland Flying Tigers for all but two games he logged during the 2022 season. He was coming off of a performance with the team's rookie affiliate in the Florida Complex League (FCL) after being signed in early 2021.

But, in his second summer, he got that bump up to the Single-A level, where he played in 80 games for the Flying Tigers. He slashed .215/.379/.366 with 13 doubles and nine home runs. He managed 30 RBI and swiped ten bags this summer as well.

Let's take a look at that swing, it may not be an open-side look, but still shows a few takeaways.

Santana does not have the biggest frame, but there's strength and athleticism for sure. In the box, he starts with that front knee slightly bent, leading to a slightly inward/closed foot position and a slightly bent front knee. Some bat waggle, but as the pitch is delivered, he gets to a hitting position and uses a leg lift trigger.

The big thing that stands out to me is how he coils up and then unloads to destroy this pitch. You hear hitting coaches that will say loading to unload or coiling to uncoil, and Santana does that. He pauses but keeps himself moving in stride, leading to serious damage when he matches the plane.

He could clean up the swing and miss and improve the swing decisions, but the tools to hit are there. The stat line above will not jump off the paper at you; he's not blowing the doors off the minor leagues but continued work and development with that swing... it's something to monitor.

There's a lot to like with Santana's presence in the box, and should leave fans excited to see what he does moving forward. He's one of the team's top prospects and an international signing with a chance to bring benefit to the organization down the road.

Next. Matthew Boyd returns to Detroit Tigers. dark

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