Gabriel Santana, First Baseman
HT : 6'2
WT : 180
DOB : August 18, 1995 (20), in Porlamar, Nueva Esparta, Venezuela
Throws : Right
Bats : Right
School : N/A
Last Year's Ranking : #64
Gabriel Santana did not come to the Los Angeles Angels at a cheap cost. The Venezuelan signed as a 16-year-old for $180,000, and he's beginning to show why the cost was so high. His stock falls due to his unnatural defensive position, but his bat could carry him to the top. As the Angels begin to see the benefits from digging into their pockets for the check book, Santana is beginning to make big waves in the system.
This past season, Santana went from a raw product to more established professional hitter. He has a strong line drive swing from the right side, keeping his bat path through the zone, allowing optimal contact points.
Santana has a middle of the field to opposite field approach, which in turn with his line drive swing means gap-to-gap abilities. He has good bat speed, and you can really hear the pop off the bat when squares up the ball.
As Santana develops more into his frame, his power numbers should see a boost. He has some pop already (as mentioned above), but it primarily goes to the gaps as he lines the ball just above the ground in most at bats. This should improve and turn into home runs with time.
Santana was slightly over matched by advanced pitching, but has a keen eye for the strike zone. He could become a duel threat at the plate, adding power and on-base abilities as he grows as a polished player.
Santana was signed as a catcher, but the move to first base was made quickly upon becoming a professional player. He has a strong arm, and good scooping abilities, which could turn him into a well polished defensive first baseman for the future.
Santana has a good first step in the field and on the paths. Though he'll probably never be a serious threat on the base paths, his initial burst should allow him to stay aggressive on the paths and make up room on the right-side of the diamond.
Scouting Report from Taylor Blake Ward - Senior Publisher for Scout.com
Santana's debut professional season was limited to just 100 at bats, but he made good time. Santana kicked off his professional career with a seven-game hit-streak, where he went 12-for-24 with a double and two walks while striking out just three times. Santana finished his debut season with a .240/.330/.270 slash.
Santana was limited once again in his sophomore professional season and saw the sophomore slump come into play. He hit just .206/.300/.216 with one extra-base hit in 97 at bats. Santana did collect an eight-game hit-steak near the end of the season, highlighted by a four-hit game. Over the stretch, Santana hit .414 with a .865 OPS.
The numbers began to see an increase in Santana's final year at the DSL level. He boasted a .248/.323/.359 slash with six home runs and six doubles, while bringing 30 runs in with his bat. Santana closed out his season batting .294 over his final 45 games, with a .785 OPS and five home runs.
Santana came state side this past season, and hit some culture shock against top college and prep pitchers. He hit .225 with a .628 OPS between two affiliates - AZL / High-A - while collecting 11 doubles. Things did kick off in the right direction though as he hit .412 with a 1.018 OPS in his first 10 games in the states.
Santana will be 20-years-old for the majority of next season, which means there's plenty of time for him to develop. He should make a return to Rookie Ball, preferably Orem, and spend the entire season working to cut his strikeout rates in the Pioneer League through the 2016 season.
There's a lot of tools to desire when it comes to Santana, with quite a bit of polish already being seen. These tools will at least carry him to the upper levels of the minors, and as he becomes more polished and established as a professional, could result in a Major League career as a bench piece.
For more updates on the Los Angeles Angels, their prospects, and our Top 100 Prospects Countdown, follow us on Twitter, @AngelsOnScout. Keep up with our countdown on Twitter with the hashtag, #LAATop100Prospects.
This article was published by Taylor Blake Ward, who serves as a Senior Publisher for Scout.com, and can be found on Twitter, @TaylorBlakeWard.