Two of the Cincinnati Reds top prospects took the mound last night. Tony Santillan started game one of a doubleheader in Triple-A Louisville, while Hunter Greene took the mound for Double-A Chattanooga. Neither of them disappointed.
Tony Santillan is pitching like he wants to be the next pitcher called up to Cincinnati. The 24-year-old right-handed starter had pitched well all season. He entered last night with a 2.49 ERA, eight walks, and 32 strikeouts in 25.1 innings.
His stuff was working at a different level on Friday night against St. Paul. Santillan set a career high as he racked up 13 strikeouts while allowing two runs on three hits and four walks in 7.0 innings – getting a complete game in the process. He threw 111 pitches in the game with 66 strikes.
His slider was a problem for the Saints hitters. But so was his fastball. One of the things that plagued Santillan the past two years was consistent velocity. Some nights he would throw in the mid 90’s, but other times he’s be more 92-94. This season that’s not been a problem and last night may have been the best outing for him from a fastball velocity standpoint. He was routinely hitting 97 each inning. His last two fastballs of the game were 98 and 97 MPH.
Following the game Tony Santillan’s stats looked like this on the year: 2.51 ERA in 32.1 innings, 23 hits allowed, 5 home runs, 12 walks, and 45 strikeouts.
He’s made six starts this season. And he’s never pitched out of the bullpen before. But if there’s a move to be made that would seem to provide a clear step up on the pitching staff in Cincinnati, it would seem Santillan is the guy. Whether that happens anytime soon or not is another answer. If the team prefers to keep him starting for the time being then the move to the bullpen in the short term – even in more of a longer relief role – could be out of the question. But it seems quite apparent that among the guys in Triple-A, and even on the 40-man roster, he’s the guy that would help out the big league team more than anyone else in either role.
Hunter Greene keeps it going
Much like Tony Santillan, Hunter Greene has been outstanding this season. He entered Friday night’s start against Rocket City with a 1.91 ERA in 28.1 innings with 41 strikeouts and nine walks.
Friday night would mark the second time on the season that Greene would face Rocket City. He also squared off against them on opening night at home in Chattanooga. On the road this time things were a little bit different, but the results were still quite good.
The 21-year-old right-handed starter had a shutout going through 6.2 innings, but with two men on Izzy Wilson connected on a 100 MPH fastball for a 3-run home run. That would be the only damage against Greene on the night and it closed the Lookouts lead to 11-3 so it was hardly damaging for the team.
If he had recorded one more out it would have matched a career high in innings. Greene did set a career high with pitches, throwing 106 of them with 74 strikes in the game. In total he allowed seven hits, walked a better, and struck out 10 of the 28 hitters that he faced. The home run did bump his ERA up to 2.31 on the season in 35.0 innings. He’s allowed just 25 hits and 10 walks on the season, given up just two home runs, and he’s now sitting on 51 strikeouts while facing 137 batters – that’s a 37% strikeout rate.
While there are probably some things that are still learnable in Double-A for Hunter Greene, it may be better suited for him to move up to Triple-A soon if he continues to perform as he has. On Friday night he threw 45 fastballs that were 100 MPH or higher on the Rocket City radar gun. His slider is a plus or better offering. And while his change up is a third pitch in his repertoire, it’s been a solid offering this year as well. Everything he “needs” to learn in Double-A could also be learned in Triple-A, but there’s a better chance that hitters in Triple-A could also provide a bit more feedback as to what is and isn’t quite working and needs to improve before he reaches the next level.