Santiago Experiences Sudden Surge For White Sox





CHICAGO—White Sox officials told Hector Santiago during instructional league last fall that he could be next in line to make the majors as a lefthanded reliever.

Despite Santiago's lack of upper-level experience in the minor leagues, the organization had plenty of history to back up that assertion. Five years ago, Boone Logan was promoted from minor league camp to the Opening Day roster despite having never pitched above Class A. Last summer, Chris Sale reached the majors within two months after the White Sox selected him with their first-round pick.

Santiago, a 23-year-old who wasn't drafted until the 30th round in 2006, had never started until this season and hadn't pitched above high Class A Winston-Salem until May.

"Winter ball definitely helped," said Santiago, who was drafted out of Okaloosa-Walton (Fla) JC. "You get more time to throw a lot more, you figure out your pitches and have more veteran guys helping you out. I'm picking their brains. I learned to throw my offspeed pitches a lot better over there because you have to throw it because there are a lot of big league guys and high minor league guys playing. You definitely learn to pitch a lot better, especially with fastball location and definitely get a feel for my pitches."

The biggest revelation for Santiago last fall was the development of a screwball, with the help of former Brewers pitcher Angel Miranda during his flat-ground work and bullpen sessions while pitching for Carolina in the Puerto Rican League.

"I learned my changeup from Angel Miranda, but he threw a screwball and taught me to throw a changeup, and it moved that way," Santiago said.

Santiago was promoted to Chicago on June 26 after striking out 73 in 79 innings at Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham.

CHI-LITES

• Switch-hitting center fielder Keenyn Walker, a supplemental first-rounder and the White Sox's top pick, signed for $795,000.

• As part of their rehabilitation from injuries, lefthander Garrett Johnson and righthander Stephen Sauer accompanied the Sox to Colorado to throw early batting practice to slumping slugger Adam Dunn. Johnson was recovering from a stress fracture in his pelvic bone and a partially torn labrum in his hip. Sauer had an impingement in his shoulder.