Tony Santillan Doesn't Waver At Double-A
No one questions whether Nick Senzel is the best prospect in the Reds' system. But two big questions remain. Can he stay healthy? And where will he play in the big leagues?
A bout of vertigo ended his 2017 season and then reoccurred early in the 2018 season. Then he suffered a season-ending finger injury at Triple-A Louisville in late June.
Despite a slow start in his first run through the International League, Senzel still hit .310/.378/.509 with six home runs in 46 games. He had hits in 19 of his last 20 games of the season, including multiple hits in 10 of those games.
Though the 23-year-old Senzel played third base throughout college and his first two pro seasons, he started 28 games at second base, 14 at third and one at shortstop this season. He is getting reps in the outfield during instructional league and could see time there in Cincinnati next season.
Hunter Greene may have the most potential of any Reds pitching prospect, but the best pitcher at this point is 21-year-old righthander Tony Santillan.
The 6-foot-3 Texan dominated the high Class A Florida State League in the first half and then shined at Double-A Pensacola. Overall he went 10-7, 3.08 in 26 starts with 134 strikeouts in 149 innings. He held his walk rate steady at 2.3 per nine innings at both levels.
"He's doing all the things a premiere prospect does with his stuff, size, strength and aggressiveness," said Shawn Pender, special assistant to the general manager for player development. "He throws hard, he throws strikes, he gets his secondary pitches over.
"He was challenged in the push up and he didn't waiver. That, to me, is an indicator that you've got something."
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The Reds were excited when they signed Cuban shortstop Jose Garcia in 2017, but he didn't get his first taste of pro ball in the U.S. until this season.
Garcia debuted at low Class A Dayton on his 20th birthday, rapping a single in his first game on American soil. However, he struggled in his first couple of months, hitting just .202/.248/.274 in the first half of the season.
In the second half, Garcia hit .277/.322/.398 with five of his six home runs.
"He's a primary example of what you hope happens with your prospects," Pender said. "He got pushed to Dayton and got off to a slow start. That was a challenge, but what he did in the second half of the season indicated that the push was the right thing."
The 6-foot-2, 175-pound Garcia has the athleticism to play just about any position, and it's possible he outgrows shortstop, where he committed 24 errors. He also played second base for the Dragons.
"A lot of the issues he had were more youthful decision and correctable defensive flaws," Pender said. "It's not his tool set. You have to realize he's 20 and his background is he hasn't played a full season."