When the Cincinnati Reds drafted Tony Santillan with their 2nd round pick in 2015 the scouting reports were all the same. Big time fastball, flashes a good breaking ball, poor control due to mechanics. The now 21-year-old has put a few seasons under his belt, and has shown improvements each season. But it was the 2018 season that saw a big jump forward in production.
In 2017 there were stretches of time when Tony Santillan would show good control, and that season did represent a step forward for him. But the right handed didn’t really have any prolonged lapses in control during 2018. He began the year with the Daytona Tortugas and made 15 starts for them. Santillan would dominate the Florida State League in the first half, posting a 2.70 ERA in 86.2 innings pitched. That came with just 22 walks and he would add in 73 strikeouts.
That was just a bit of a teaser. The performance earned Tony Santillan a promotion to Double-A for the second half. Joining the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, he found himself in more hitter friendly environments than the Florida State League had, and the level of competition was better. The ERA did jump up a bit in the Southern League, as Santillan posted a 3.61 mark in the second half. That came in 62.1 innings pitched with 16 walks and 61 strikeouts. His walk rate remained the same, and quite low, and his strikeout rate improved.
Between the two stops, Tony Santillan posted a 3.08 ERA in 149.0 innings. He allowed 13 home runs, walked just 38 batters, and he struck out 134 opposing hitters during the regular season. His start for Pensacola in the playoffs was one of the best of his season. Santillan allowed one run on two hits in 6.1 innings with one walk and he struck out eight batters. A fitting way to end the season for the right hander.
Among the starting pitchers in the farm system Tony Santillan ranked in the top five in wins (3rd), ERA (3rd), innings (3rd) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (5th). The overall performance made him an easy choice not only as the top pitcher in the organization in 2018, but as the overall Player of the Year in the organization.
Tony Santillan’s 2018 Season Stats