The 2018 season was a breakout one for Tony Santillan. The then 21-year-old posted a 3.08 ERA between Advanced-A Daytona and Double-A Pensacola, walking just 38 batters in 149.0 innings with 134 strikeouts.
When the 2019 season began the Cincinnati Reds sent Tony Santillan back to Double-A, where he finished his 2018 season, but to their new affiliate in Chattanooga. The season got out to a good start for the right-handed starter as he struck out eight batters with two walks while giving up a run in 5.0 innings to begin the season. The next time out he tossed 4.0 shutout innings with eight more strikeouts, but did walk five batters in the game. His next start had five more walks as he allowed two runs in 5.2 innings at home against Mississippi. The next two starts saw the walks mostly disappear as he had just two in 10.1 innings, but allowed six earned runs. In five starts in April he posted a 3.24 ERA with 34 strikeouts and 14 walks over 25.0 innings.
May began with a struggle for Tony Santillan as he allowed four earned while walking four batters with just one strikeout on May 5th. He’d rebound well the next time out with 6.0 shutout innings with five strikeouts. Taking on his former team, sort of, he allowed five runs against Pensacola in 6.0 innings with six strikeouts. He closed out the month well, allowing three runs in 17.1 innings over the final three starts with five walks and six strikeouts. The month was a little bit up-and-down, but he posted a 3.24 ERA for the second straight month. Over his six starts he threw 33.1 innings with 12 walks and 28 strikeouts.
To say that June was a tough month for Tony Santillan would be an understatement. The 22-year-old’s first half of the month saw him allow 23 hits, seven walks, and hit two batters in 13.2 innings while allowing 12 earned runs. He would only make two starts in the second half of the month, and it didn’t go better as he allowed 11 earned runs in 9.2 innings on 13 hits and five walks with just four strikeouts. He would end the month with a shoulder injury that placed him on the injured list and kept him from making a start to end the month. He’d finish the month with an ERA of 8.87 in 23.1 innings with 12 walks and just 13 strikeouts.
July saw the right-handed pitcher begin the month still on the injured list, but he returned to start on the 5th. It didn’t go well as he pitched just 2.0 innings and walked four batters without a strikeout while giving up four runs. The next time out was a little better, but Tony Santillan pitched just 3.0 innings – though they were shutout innings and he struck out four batters. He was placed on the injured list again following the game, though, with a triceps injury. The time missed worked out to just one start as he returned on the 19th, allowing three runs in 5.0 innings against Jacksonville. Six days later he allowed one earned in 5.2 innings with eight strikeouts on the road in Birmingham. The month ended on a sour note against Tennessee as he walked six batters with one strikeout in 5.0 innings while giving up three runs. He’d finish the month with a 4.79 ERA in 202. innings with 16 walks and 17 strikeouts.
Two days into August Tony Santillan was placed on the injured list and he didn’t return before the season ended.
For all 2019 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).
Tony Santillan Scouting Report
Position: Right-handed pitcher | B/T: R/R
Height: 6′ 3″ | Weight: 240 lbs | Drafted: 2nd Round, 2015
Fastball | When the pitch is at the top of it’s velocity, he’ll touch 98. But he will work more in the 92-95 range with the pitch.
Slider | A potentially plus pitch that works in the mid-to-upper 80’s.
Curveball | A solid offering that works in the low 80’s.
Change Up | An above-average offering at times, that will flash plus every so often, that works in the mid-to-upper 80’s.
The first two months of the season were a bit inconsistent for Tony Santillan, but he held hitters in check despite a .333 BABIP against. But after that he began to battle a few arm injuries – none that were serious in nature, but we’re enough to effect his performance and put him on the injured list three times. His ERA more than doubled, his strikeout rate fell off, and his walk rate ballooned while also watching his BABIP jump up to .352 in the final two months of his season.
The gains made in control during 2018 didn’t show up nearly as often in 2019. Some of that is likely due to injuries. But it’s the control, the walk rate, that’s been the biggest issue throughout the career of Tony Santillan. His stuff is above-average pretty much across the board, and when he’s throwing strikes with it consistently, he gets good results.
If the control returns with health for Tony Santillan, it will be easy to write off what happened in 2019 as a result of the injuries. But with the history of control problems, it’s an area where you’re going to want to see him bounce back from the issues that resurfaced in 2019, too.
He won’t turn 23-years-old until two weeks into the 2020 season, so age is on his side. The Reds have plenty of time to allow Tony Santillan to remain a starting pitcher and work through any issues that may pop up. But if starting doesn’t work out for one reason or the other, the bullpen could be an easy fall back plan where he could focus on two pitches and let his fastball go a little bit more in shorter stints. That plan is pretty far down the line, though, and only there if needed.
Interesting Stat on Tony Santillan
Right-handed hitters had a .420 BABIP against him in 2019, while left-handed hitters had a .271 BABIP against him in 2019.
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