Detroit Tigers top 30 prospects for 2023: No.2 - Cristian Santana
We are running out of space on the countdown of the top 30 prospects in the Detroit Tigers organization. Continuing through the top five prospects is an infielder who was a former international signing of the Tigers organization.
The Detroit Tigers farm system has not done super well in recent years with their international free-agent signings, but Cristian Santana is one of the players who could be impressive. He's got the potential to be one of the international signings that pan out to bring some value offensively.
The Tigers may have found a solid infield prospect in Santana which is why he comes in at no.2 on our countdown amongst the Motor City Bengals staff. The 19-year-old infielder moves around the field, with the versatility to play any of the infield positions but is likely to grade out as a shortstop looking down the line.
Santana is a 6-foot-, 165-pound frame that looks the part of a middle infielder. It seems like a situation where he's going to keep working toward the big leagues as a shortstop but could find himself moving around the infield to find a home, but the bat is exciting and worth talking about.
In 2022, Santana was with the Single-A Lakeland squad with just two games played at the Rookie ball level out in the backfield games with the FCL squad. Santana played 80 games and logged 270 at-bats with the Single-A Lakeland squad. He hit .215/.384/.374 with 13 doubles, ten home runs, and 32 RBI to his credit.
The thing that works in his favor most is that he is so young. He has the tools to find success; the biggest thing will be for him to make that leap and transition into the organization to find success. Finding ways to succeed at each level along the way is the goal for Santana right now.
That being said, let's talk through some of Santana's makeup in the batters' box.
He starts with a wider base and a toe-pointed down into the ground as he gets set. The hands are set higher with a higher back elbow. He has a bat waggle going as he gets set in the batters' box.
Santana uses a bigger leg lift as his trigger to get going. The hands get through the zone with some serious speed. The bat speed is very clearly present, and his hands travel through the zone with pretty good intent.
He's able to rotate hard through contact. Based on how he tries to swing and get through the zone with the barrel, it leads me to think that he is trying to pull the ball and work the ball in the air to the pull side.
A quick look at his frame also tells you a bit more about him. He uses the lower half well, which is thicker and well-built, with some strength for sure. He has that 6-foot frame; the strong lower half helps him generate some power working through the swing.
He's got the potential to be a thicker-built shortstop with more muscle than athleticism or lankiness, but Santana could very well be a solid bat as a part of the Tigers' farm system moving forward. He projects as a middle infielder and could very well be a bat with some pop and the ability to put a few balls out but also work gap-to-gap.
The Tigers should be hoping that his projection continues to hold true as he climbs the ranks of the farm system moving forward. He could very well end up being a second baseman with some pop, but with him being so young, more time is needed to get a better feel for what he will be as he rises through the ranks.