Image credit: Gregory Santos (Photo by Bill Mitchell)
MESA, Ariz. — When the Giants traded Eduardo Nunez to the Red Sox two years ago, they received two young righthanders in return, one for the near future and one farther away. The first, Shaun Anderson, pitched in the Futures Game last year and is on the cusp of the major leagues.
The second, Gregory Santos, is 19 years old and will likely make his full-season debut with low Class A Augusta this coming season. Santos was already touching 93 mph with his fastball when the Red Sox signed him for $275,000 in 2015, and he’d also shown feel for both a breaking ball and changeup.
Santos was dazzling in his start against Athletics minor leaguers on Thursday afternoon, sitting in the 92-95 mph range with his fastball and dialing the pitch up as high as 97 mph when needed. He coupled the fastball with a hammer breaking ball and a changeup that got swings and misses against both lefthanders and righthanders.
“I thought he looked great,” Augusta pitching coach Clay Rapada said. “He mixed his pitches well and was able to command the ball in the zone. He showed really good composure as far as dealing with some adversity, but overall I thought it was one of his best outings so far.”
Noticeably bigger and stronger than in seasons past, Santos has among the highest upside of any of San Francisco’s pitching prospects.
“I think he’s grown up a lot,” Rapada said. “On the mental side, he’s grown up a lot. Mechanically, I think he’s a lot more comfortable with his movements in his delivery. When you first get in this game, you just want to get the reps and get comfortable repeating your delivery.”
Santos had a chance to exercise his mental tenacity toward the end of the third inning. After blowing away the first hitter on three pitches, then getting a weak grounder from the next hitter, the righthander had an 0-2 count on the third hitter of the inning.
Santos painted the inside corner with a fastball so thoroughly on his next pitch that every defensive player on the field started walking toward the dugout. The pitch was ruled a ball, however, and everyone had to reset themselves. After missing a shade farther inside with a fastball on the next pitch, Santos got the strikeout on a hellacious curveball in the dirt.
It was just one inning, but it showed Santos’ tremendous potential. There were high-octane fastballs. There were swinging strikeouts on both a changeup and a curveball, and there was the sheer will to overcome obstacles thrown in his way.
He’s got a long way to go, but Thursday’s outing made it easy to understand why Santos is regarded so highly among Giants prospects.
Seventeen-year-old shortstop prospect Marco Luciano, the No. 2 international prospect in the 2018 class and the No. 2 prospect in the Giants’ system, opened some eyes on Thursday as well. Besides smooth actions and a strong arm in the field, he showed off his incredibly easy power potential.
After having his tower buzzed on the previous pitch, Luciano hit a ball roughly 380 feet on a line into the left-center field alleyway for a double. Without the elevated chain-link fence above the regular outfield wall, Luciano has a home run.
Here’s what it looked like.
Speaking of power, keep an eye on Kwan Adkins, who swatted a monster home run that easily traveled more than 400 feet out to right field in his first at-bat, then sprayed a loud double to left-center field in his second time at the plate. The 22-year-old whom the Giants drafted in the 30th round last year out of Northwestern State in Louisiana didn’t have a sparkling pro debut, but he can clearly put a charge into a baseball.