Rangers Prospect #50: Ovispo de los Santos

Reliever Ovispo de los Santos missed the entire 2011 season due to an elbow injury, but when healthy, he has arguably the organization's best fastball. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at the 24-year-old prospect with an in-depth scouting report.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Ovispo de los Santos
Position: Relief Pitcher
DOB: November 19, 1987
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 205
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Acquired: 2006 International Free Agent

There isn't much new to report on de los Santos since last offseason, when he ranked 32nd in the Rangers' organization. At the time, the fireballing righty reliever appeared poised for a breakout on the heels of an improved 2010 campaign.

But de los Santos' season never got off the ground. Right shoulder soreness kept the Dominican Republic native out of spring training games in 2011. He took just over a month off before throwing a few bullpen and live batting practice sessions in late April and early May. Although his velocity and overall stuff was fine, the soreness remained.

The Rangers ultimately had de los Santos undergo a procedure to shave bone spurs off his elbow late in the year. In the end, the 6-foot-1 hurler had missed the entire season.

Now 24, de los Santos has lost significant chunks of two separate seasons due to injuries since he signed in 2006. He was shut down due to shoulder inflammation after only six rookie ball appearances in '08, although the injury was rehabbed and didn't require surgery.

Despite his age and the fact that he hasn't pitched above low Single-A in six professional seasons, de los Santos remains one of the organization's more intriguing relief prospects. He's got a quick, loose arm that produces elite velocity with lots of movement. While the rest of the package––including command and secondary stuff––has room for development, the fastball alone could get him to the major leagues.

The much more detailed scouting report on de los Santos is located below.

Also See: EST Notes: Rehabbers, newcomers in Arizona (May 4, 2011)
Rangers 2011 Rule 5 Preview (November 18, 2011)
Rangers Injury Wildcards (December 12, 2011)

Prospect Video:

Ovispo de los Santos 2010 reel from Jason Cole on Vimeo.

Repertoire: Fastball, Slider, Changeup.

Fastball: De los Santos' scouting report comes with one important caveat––he missed the entire 2011 season with a right elbow injury and underwent minor surgery. His raw stuff––including the velocity––is likely to remain the same, but uncertainty will linger until he steps on the mound in 2012.

With mechanics that somewhat resemble that of Rangers hurler Neftali Feliz, de los Santos flashes seemingly effortless plus-plus velocity, throwing his fastball between 93-98 mph with some late life. He touched 99 at extended spring training in 2010 and bumped 100 with short-season Spokane later that year.

His fastball command projects to be about average, though it wasn't there just yet two seasons ago. His command had taken a step forward but room for improvement remained. He throws enough strikes but can be wild within the zone. His fastball is a definite plus pitch overall, and he relies on it heavily out of the bullpen.

Other Pitches: While de los Santos made significant strides in his last season on the mound, his primary focus was the development of his secondary stuff. Prior to the '10 campaign, he was overly reliant on his fastball and rarely used his slider or changeup. Although he could dominate complex league hitters on the elite velocity, the Rangers instructed him to begin mixing in the other two pitches before promoting him.

The reliever began to gain confidence in his 82-83 mph slider after using it with greater frequency. The offering, which is inconsistent but looks like a future average pitch, has good tilt and late break. He began to use the slider as more of a put-away pitch late in the season. His third pitch––an 84-87 mph changeup––was little-used, though he made it more of a priority at instructs following that season. De los Santos' secondary stuff has improved, but he still must refine his consistency and command of both pitches.

Projection: The 24-year-old's value is mostly in the velocity and life of his plus-plus fastball. Although he has yet to pitch above Single-A Hickory, his dominant heater could enable him to jump through the system if he continues to harness his command and secondary stuff. That is, of course, providing that he's healthy in 2012.

With his athleticism and arm speed, de los Santos has the potential to pitch in a seventh- or eighth-inning role with the Rangers someday. His pedestrian command and lack of a dominant secondary offering keeps him from projecting as a true closer. Still, with even just passable secondaries and command, he should reach the majors and could carve out a successful career.

2012 Outlook: After missing the entire '11 season, de los Santos should be ready to go this spring. He began the '10 campaign in extended spring training and ultimately finished at Hickory, where he logged 20 appearances. Though he had a successful stint with the Crawdads, he may be likely to get a refresher course back there early this season. But if he retains the stuff he flashed two years ago, he may not be there for long. It wouldn't be a stretch to see a healthy de los Santos spend much of the season at Double-A Frisco.

ETA: 2013.

Year Team W-L IP H BB SO ERA
2006 DSL Rangers (DSL) 2-2 24.0 25 18 19 7.13
2007 DSL Rangers (DSL) 4-2 62.2 49 14 53 2.01
2008 AZL Rangers (RK) 0-0 8.1 12 5 10 7.56
2009 AZL Rangers (RK) 3-2 28.2 24 7 22 3.45
2010 Spokane (SSA) 0-0 5.1 2 2 9 0.00
Hickory (A) 1-3 20.2 17 6 25 3.48
2011 DNP – Injured --- --- --- --- --- ---

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