When the Cincinnati Reds drafted Tony Santillan in the 2nd round of the 2015 Major League Baseball draft he was viewed as a player who was raw, but talented. The general consensus was that he needed to work on his mechanics in order to improve his consistency and control. And that’s what he had done, slowly but surely, since being selected a few seasons ago.

After a quality year in 2017 with the Dayton Dragons, the Reds sent Tony Santillan to Daytona. The then 20-year-old righty would help lead the Tortugas rotation in the Florida State League. In his first start of the year he didn’t allow an earned run over 4.0 innings and he struck out five batters. In the final start before his 21st birthday he would allow just one hit over 6.0 shutout innings and rack up eight more strikeouts. The next three starts in April were more of the same as he allowed just two earned runs in 18.1 innings in that span. During the month he posted a 0.64 ERA in 28.1 innings with just eight walks and he struck out 29 batters.

May didn’t get out to quite the same start. Tony Santillan allowed four earned on the 3rd to Jupiter in 6.0 innings. He rebounded well the next time out, firing 8.0 shutout frames with seven strikeouts. Things went a bit south after that. In his remaining two starts of the month he allowed eight earned runs in 9.1 innings, walking two batters and striking out six. In four starts during the month he posted a 4.63 ERA, allowing 26 hits in 23.1 innings. He would only walk four batters, but struck out just 15 during the month.

It would be 10 days before he would take the mound following his last start, but on June 1st the right hander toed the rubber. Things picked up where they left off. He allowed four runs over 6.0 innings that day. The next time out he allowed four earned over 5.2 innings at home against Clearwater. Things turned around from that point, though. Tony Santillan allowed one, two, and one earned runs in the final three starts of June. The strong finish led to a 3.68 ERA over his five starts and 29.1 innings. He walked nine batters and had 23 strikeouts during the month.

July began with what would be the final start for Daytona for Tony Santillan. He fired 5.2 shutout innings with a walk and six strikeouts against St. Lucie. His next start would come with the Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos. The now 21-year-old didn’t skip a beat, allowing one earned in 6.0 innings. The next three starts would see him allow five earned in 17.2 innings with four walks and 16 strikeouts. In his final start of July he racked up a season best 11 strikeouts with just two walks in 5.2 shutout innings. It would cap off arguably his best month of the year. Santillan posted a 1.54 ERA during July in 35.0 innings with just eight walks, one home run allowed, and 38 strikeouts.

August got out to a solid start for Tony Santillan. He allowed an earned run over 6.0 innings with a walk and four strikeouts. The next two starts, though, did not go well. Against Mobile and Jacsonville he allowed 13 earned in just 7.2 combined innings. They were his only two hiccups at the Double-A level on the year. The native Texan would rebound well in his final three starts. He allowed just six earned in 19.1 innings (2.79 ERA) with four walks and 16 strikeouts. Over the final five weeks of the season he posted a 5.18 ERA in six starts. Over his 33.0 innings he walked just nine batters and he struck out 29. He did allow seven home runs in that stretch, which was more than he had allowed in the other four months combined.

For all 2018 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).

Tony Santillan Scouting Report

Fastball | Earlier in the season, Tony Santillan wasn’t pumping the big velocity with Daytona and his strikeout rate was down a bit. Eventually the premium velocity showed up and he began to sit in the 94-96 MPH range and touch higher as the season moved forward.

Slider | The pitch works in the 88-91 MPH range. The velocity is near the top of the range for sliders, and while it’s not one that bites hard like some others, the velocity makes a real difference with the pitch. At it’s best it is a plus offering, but some nights it’s average to above-average.

Change Up | The most improved pitch over the last few years, the change up is an average to above-average offering. It’s a bit firm at times, but works in the 87-90 MPH range with some good fading action to it.

Everything that Tony Santillan throws is hard. Most nights you won’t see a pitch in the mid-80’s from him. The fastball is a plus to plus-plus offering and he mixes in two above-average offerings along with it. He shows everything you want to see from a young starting pitcher.

The last thing to come for Santillan was the control. He made strides in that department in 2017, but it wasn’t consistent throughout the year. In 2018 it was and he went from a pitcher with a below-average walk rate to one with a borderline elite walk rate. If you couple that with the pure stuff he shows you can see a guy who could be near the top of your rotation.

He will be 21-years-old when the season begins in 2019. And he’s only had 11 starts at the Double-A level. But with his stuff and the improvement in his control, he’s a guy that could move very quickly in 2019 if he comes out of the gate pitching like he did in 2018. At some point in 2019 there’s a chance that Tony Santillan could see action in Cincinnati. While that is likely to come in the second half of the year, sooner wouldn’t be completely shocking.

Interesting Stat on Tony Santillan

Players don’t run very often on Tony Santillan. He’s excellent at holding runners on the bag. In the last two seasons he’s allowed just 13 stolen bases. In 2018 he also picked off three runners.

10 Responses

  1. Hoyce

    I look for hits lower than innings pitched. K’s Higher than innings pitched. A WHIP of @1.00. And walks @3.00/9. In a minor league pitcher. Obviously all 4 and ur a stud. But 3/4 if ur going to be major league worthy and a difference maker. Of all the reds prospects. I think Santillan is the most important. I expect the top 3 to be major league contributors. But after that it’s a crap shoot. Along w India- which I don’t see being that great-hopefully I’m wrong.

  2. AllTheHype

    It seems to me the fact that he DOESN’T have a mid-80s offering is actually a negative. WIth 94-96 top side velo, normally you’d want mid-80s low range velo or even less for CB, which he doesn’t throw. If all his pitches play in the 87-96 range, the breaking and change-up would serve to “speed the bat up” for some hitters and not necessarily generate swing and misses, at least from a logic standpoint. I’d be curious to know where his actual “swing and miss” stats sit in relation to his elite peers.

  3. Patrick

    Analytically you have to grade Reds right hand pitchers on an inverse curve. In Dayton and Pensacola the leagues and stadiums favor right handed pitching.
    Comparing his numbers to other right handers for the Reds shows that is numbers are not that special and do not translate well to the majors.

    Santillian’s grades out almost the same as Romano at fangraphs
    FB 70/70 slider 55/60 change 40/45 Command 40/45 overall 45+
    FB 70/70 slider 55/55 change 40/45 command 50/55 overall 45

    Romano 2016 AA 8.31 k/9 1.96 bb/9 .58 hr/9 3.52 era 3.06 fip
    Santillian 2018 AA 8.81 k/9 2.31bb/9 1.16hr/9 3.61 era 3.94 fip

    Based on history I see a number 5 starter or bullpen guy. Because you will see higher walk and home run rates when he gets to Cincinnati.

    I truly believe the parks that our pitchers pitch in either gives us an overly optimistic value of these pitchers or it hurts in their development. Maybe both.

    Pitching in Cincinnati is way different environment than pitching in our minor league parks. I think because of the parks the hitters are more prepared for the majors.

    • Tom

      I’m all for this kind of sober look. At what point do we see this somewhat average prospect profile clean up those nagging issues through advanced development? Santillian is good, but somewhat indistinguishable from Travieso, Reed, Stephenson, Mahle, Romano, Davis, Moscot, Garrett, or any other of the pitching prospects we’ve seen the last 5 years. Hunter Greene’s second half started to approach that sort of surefire profile, but no one else has come close to that since Stephenson’s early years. Cueto was a phenomenon. We’d all die to see numbers like his come through the system right now.

      Santillian may emerge, he’s not done anything wrong per se, but he’s very much in that prospect-y zone of maybe, but probably not, having a 15 WAR career ahead of him. That’s only said just looking at the numbers. He’s definitely in control of his destiny.

      • reaganspad

        which is why you overpay for a pitching coach who can find the best in Santillian, Green, Reed, Stephenson, Mahle, Garrett, Lorenzen, RI

        There is a lot of pitching talent, regardless of the leagues that have been shuffled around. I really like have a coach who is over the system pitching throughout, and not just at the major league level.

        Grooming Green and Santillian is the same importance as starting Lorenzen or fixing Garrett. a simple tweak for any of these guys, including Reed or Mahle could be huge. We have not handled pitchers well.

        Maybe the new guy is the Stephenson Whisperer

    • Big Ed

      Santillan was a year and a half younger in 2018 than Romano was last year.

  4. MK

    Tony certainly has the body to become a workhorse type pitcher. Think through the hips, broad shoulders and chest. He also has quick feet which doesn’t necessarily go along with a solid frame. Without anyone close he has the quickest pick-off move for a right hander that I have ever seen. I would like to see them keep he and Moss close together. They are a very effective duo when they go back-to-back.