The Cincinnati Reds signed Debby Santana on his 16th birthday in August of 2016. The next year he turned heads for the Dominican Summer League Reds, hitting .302/.356/.448 with 17 doubles, a triple, and two home runs as one of the youngest players in the entire league.
It was his production that earned Debby Santana a promotion to the United States in 2018. The Reds assigned the 17-year-old to the Arizona League Reds. The season didn’t begin until June 18th. In that first nearly two week stretch until the end of June there were some highs and some lows. The highs included three home runs in 10 games played. The lows were that in 42 plate appearances he struck out 15 times, walked just once, and hit .195. The power that he had shown in 2017 came with him, but the adjustment to the other parts of the game on offense were tough in the early part of the year. He also made four errors at third base, and another at first base.
July began with a week where Debby Santana struck out just three times in 20 plate appearances, but he went just 3-19 (.158) in that span as the slump to begin the year continued. A big game on July 10th against the Padres 2, he went 4-5 with a double and helped fuel a week where he hit .389. That was the high of the month, though. In the final two weeks of the month he hit just .135 over 10 games played. For the month he posted a .203/.253/.270 with 18 strikeouts and four walks in 79 trips to the plate. He cut back on the strikeouts, significantly, compared to June. The power, however did drop off. The errors showed up again as he made eight errors in 18 defensive games played.
When the calendar flipped to August, a light flipped on for Debby Santana. In the first week of August he hit .333/.400/.833 with just one strikeout in 20 plate appearances. He also homered for the first time since June. It was more of the same the next week as he hit .400 with three more extra-base hits. In the final two weeks of the month, and season, he would go 10-35 (.286) with three more extra-base hits. He finished the month hitting .329/.380/.589 in 79 plate appearances. His strikeout rate really dropped off once again, fanning just 11 times. He also walked five times while racking up 10 extra-base hits. Defensively there were still some issues as he committed five more errors in 18 defensive games.
There were some very good things to take away from the season with Debby Santana. He improved as the season went on. And the improvements came in the right areas, offensively at least, too. He cut his strikeout rate and improved his walk rate. He also showed good power, and that’s before considering his age. To give in context, he finished 7th in the league in home runs. Only one other teenager hit more, teammate Danny Lantigua, who is 19. No other teenager in the league hit more than four home runs. Among teenagers who had at least 20 games played his Isolated Power of .176 was far and away the top mark (.149 was the next best).
There were some things that will need to see continued improvement, though. Early on we saw his strikeout rate balloon. On the year he struck out 44 times in 200 trips to the plate and walk just 10 times. Those rates both improved later in the year. With his age, there’s not a real concern there – but you would like to see the strikeout-to-walk ratio improve a little bit overall. The bigger concern though, is the defense. Debby Santana is incredibly young – he would have been a high school junior this season. But he posted an .863 fielding percentage at third base this year. That’s an improvement on the .821 mark he had in 2017. But it is an obvious area that will need big improvements if he’s going to remain at the position. Of his 18 errors, seven were on throws and 11 were with the glove.
2018 season stats for Debby Santana
For all 2018 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).
2018 Spray Chart for Debby Santana
Longest Home Run of the Year
429 feet on August 18th.
Debby Santana Scouting Report
Let’s preface this with this as the baseline: Throwing out scouting reports on 17-year-olds is incredibly tough. There’s just so much projection involved because of their age and current skill level.
Hitting | At an early age, Debby Santana is already using the entire field. And he’s able to hit the ball with authority to all fields, too. He also showed improved contact rates through the year. The signs are there for a solid hit tool down the road.
Power | This is where he already stands out. He’s a very strong guy, particularly for his age. There’s good power in there for him in the future.
Defense | As things stand right now there is a lot of work to be done. As noted above, his fielding percentage was well below .900 and his errors were distributed rather evenly between throwing and fielding.
Right now for Debby Santana, the bat is well ahead of the glove. It’s rare that the Reds bring a 17-year-old stateside. But with the elimination of one of their Dominican Summer League teams, it may happen a bit more frequently than it used to – though I’d still expect it to be a bit rare. Offensively, Santana more than held his own for his age at the plate. While what you do at 17 isn’t predictive, it’s better to show things statistically at that age than it is to not show them.
Interesting Stat on Debby Santana
Dating back to the 2009 season, only three 17-year-olds have hit more home runs in the Arizona Rookie League than Debby Santana did in 2018. Randal Grichuk and Juan Romero both hit seven. In 2016 Seuly Matias hit 8 (he also hit 31 this season in 94 games in Low-A for Lexington).