Dennis Santana Lives Up To Athletic Billing

Like many dads, Dennis Santana’s father thought he was raising an athlete. After all, he named his son after two professional athletes.

“My dad really liked basketball, and he liked (Anfernee) “Penny” Hardaway, so I got the name because of that,” said Santana, whose given name is Dennis Anfernee. “My first name was for Dennis Rodman.

“Unfortunately, I wasn’t a basketball player.”

Santana’s father has no doubt gotten past any disappointment by now. Dennis did grow into a professional athlete, and one with a bright future—just not in basketball.

The 22-year-old Santana is one of the Dodgers’ top pitching prospects, and he made his major league debut on June 1, when the 22-year-old righthander allowed five runs in 3.2 innings in Colorado.

The callup came after Santana’s scheduled start for Triple-A Oklahoma City had been rained out.

“The game was suspended around 11:30 (p.m.). I was talking to my wife and she said to go to sleep,” Santana said through an translator. “Around midnight, I fell asleep and my roommate woke me up. He said my phone kept ringing. It was a call from (Dodgers farm director) Brandon Gomes. He gave me that news.

“Even though the room was cold, I felt really warm.”

Signed out of the Dominican Republic as a shortstop in 2013, Santana converted to pitching after just 56 games in the Dominican Summer League. He took off from there and progressed so far that he joined the 40-man roster last November.

“The hardest thing is I like to bat,” Santana said of making the transition to pitching. “But you have to listen to what God has to say, and that’s what he wanted for me, so I’m going to listen.”

Santana has held opposing batters to a .226 average since moving to the mound. In 10 starts at Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A this year, he went 1-3, 2.54 with a 1.05 WHIP and 65 strikeouts in 4.2 innings.

If an excellent sinker is Santana’s best asset on the mound, his positive attitude and affable personality also shine through.

“I really have grown fond of Dennis over the last couple years,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He’s got a way about him that is very endearing. He’s a really good competitor, but he’s got a softness to him, a likeability. You can tell he’s from a good family.

“And from our player development guys—watching the way he’s matured as a professional and as a man, his work ethic and how he’s receptive to information and teaching and constructive criticism—all of that stuff has kind of manifested into who he is now.”


>> Outfielder Andrew Toles had not played since April 13, when he aggravated the hamstring injury that originally sent him to the disabled list. Toles was expected to rejoin Oklahoma City in early June.

>> Lefthander Caleb Ferguson went 3-0, 1.38 in eight starts at Tulsa to earn a promotion to Oklahoma City. In his debut with OKC, Ferguson struck out 10 in five scoreless innings.

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