Today I thought that I would take a look around the minor leagues and discuss a few players who are having some success in the system right now.

We are going to start at the lowest level of the minor leagues for the Reds: The Dominican Summer League by looking at an 18-year-old infielder. Raul Juarez, a Venezuelan native, is repeating the level in 2016. As a 17-year-old he hit just .205/.289/.313 with nine walks and 37 strikeouts in 190 plate appearances in 2015 for the Dominican Summer League Reds. He’s gotten out to a torrid start this year for the same club. In 32 plate appearances he’s hitting .542/.613/.792 with five walks, three doubles and a home run. At this point I really don’t know much about him, but his start warranted a mention.

The Dayton Dragons had a tough first half of the season, finishing with a record of 21-49. There really haven’t been too many bright spots for the team as far as individual performances go. The exception to that would be from second baseman Shed Long. The infielder is hitting .276/.357/.482 after going 1-3 with a walk and a solo home run on Sunday (the only run of the entire game). After spending the final 10 weeks with Dayton last year, that puts Long at 108 games in Dayton. The 20-year-old has an .841 OPS at the level with 27 doubles, three triples and 15 home runs in that span. The league average OPS in the last two seasons has been .682 and .665.

Shed Long is listed at just 5′ 8″ and 180 lbs. In no way is he physically imposing, or a guy you’d think would have much pop in his bat. The numbers certainly tell a different story, though. He’s carrying an isolated power (SLG-AVG) of just over .200 as a 19 and 20-year-old in a pitcher friendly Midwest League. Long isn’t generating his power from raw strength like some guys are able to. He generates his power from very quick hands and bat speed. He’s able to barrel the ball well and when combined with a very quick bat, the ball travels.

Tony Santillan had himself a heck of a 2016 debut. The 19-year-old got the nod as the Billings Mustangs opening night starter. He was working on a 75-pitch limit, which is about where all of the Mustangs starters will work at throughout the season, so he only made it to 4.2 innings. The right hander dominated in those 4.2 innings though, striking out eight batters with just one walk and allowing just one run.

Tony Santillan Scouting Notes

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When I saw Santillan in spring training his velocity was down several miles per hour from where he was at coming out of high school. It was just spring training, and most pitchers don’t hit their peak velocity until July, so it wasn’t a big issue to worry about at the time. Well, the velocity is back, if it was ever actually gone.

In the first start of the season he was sitting 93-95 MPH and topped out at 98 MPH with the fastball as he owned the Missoula hitters. He worked in a slider and change up, both that worked in the mid-to-upper 80’s. Perhaps the best thing, and it was something that I also saw in spring training, is that he’s worked on his mechanics and is repeating them much better now, and there’s less effort involved, and it’s led to better control.

After a rough start on May 30th for Dayton Dragons starter Ty Boyles, the left hander has put together three solid or better starts in a row. On Wednesday night he made his best start of the year, allowing just one run in 6.0 innings against South Bend. Boyles allowed just one walk and had four strikeouts.

He was throwing a little bit harder in that outing than he was when I had a chance to see him back in April. In that first viewing he was working in the upper 80’s with his fastball, but on Wednesday night he was sitting in the 89-91 MPH range and touching higher at times. His breaking ball was also a bit more consistent than it was earlier in the season.

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