Name: Miguel De Los Santos
Position: Relief Pitcher
DOB: July 10, 1988
Acquired: 2006 International Free Agent
Left-hander Miguel De Los Santos has been regarded as a prospect to watch ever since he signed out of his native Dominican Republic in February 2006.
After a number of hurdles through four full seasons, he finally appears poised to pitch in a full-season league.
De Los Santos began his pro career in '06, pitching for the Dominican Summer League Rangers just a few months after he signed his first professional contact. He showed off the talent, posting a 1.59 earned-run average while yielding just 16 hits and striking out 48 in 34 innings.
The outstanding debut convinced the Rangers he was ready to pitch in the U.S. De Los Santos appeared in one early-June game for the DSL Rangers in '07, tossing 2.2 hitless innings, and then he shipped off to the U.S. to join the rookie-level AZL Rangers.
Though De Los Santos' talent level was good enough for state-side ball, he quickly began experiencing arm troubles. The pitcher was shut down after just three appearances in Arizona, and he eventually underwent Tommy John surgery on his left elbow.
De Los Santos rehabbed over the next year, and he made a mid-season return in 2008, pitching in the AZL Rangers' rotation. Though he was a bit inconsistent, the results were strong, particularly for a pitcher coming off surgery.
In 34.2 innings and 10 starts with the rookie club, De Los Santos logged a 4.67 ERA while giving up 28 hits, walking 18 and striking out 54.
Coming into the 2009 campaign, the Rangers hoped De Los Santos would take a big step forward. He'd flashed legitimate swing-and-miss stuff the prior season, and '09 was his first full year back from injury.
De Los Santos appeared to take a nice step forward, but unfortunately, it wasn't able to happen in the U.S.
Prior to Spring Training, a number of players across baseball were being investigated because of their contact with certain officials in the Dominican Republic. Major League Baseball fired the company initially doing the investigations and was forced to hire another group, delaying the process.
Most players––including Rangers farmhands Johan Yan and Cristian Santana––were cleared relatively early and able to report a couple weeks into camp.
However, because Miguel was raised by his grandmother, his situation complicated things regarding his birth certificate and made it more difficult to get a work visa to the U.S.
The Rangers were never worried though. While clearing up the issue, De Los Santos pitched out of the DSL Rangers' bullpen, and he was nothing short of dominant.
Pitching as the team's closer, De Los Santos logged 12 saves and had a 1.41 ERA. He surrendered just eight hits over 32 innings, walking 22 and striking out 70.
After over a full year of being stuck in the Dominican Republic, De Los Santos was finally able to return to the States during the final week of Spring Training this year. Everything checked out fine––he has the same name and age as he did before––it was simply a long process to get the visa.
De Los Santos was able to pitch in one Low-A Spring Training game before camp ended, and he is currently working at Extended Spring Training. He will eventually be assigned to an affiliate outside of the club's Arizona complex.
Also See: Seven teams, seven sleepers (November 13, 2009)
Prospect Video: Miguel De Los Santos warms up
Repertoire: Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.
Fastball: De Los Santos has above-average fastball velocity for a lefty, but his command lags behind. He sat in the upper-80s, low-90s [89-92] in his one minor league Spring Training outing this year, and that's where he was while pitching with the AZL Rangers in 2008. The prospect consistently worked in the low-90s and showed the ability to bump 94 and 95 mph at times while working out of the DSL Rangers' bullpen last summer.
Because De Los Santos hides the ball well, his fastball appears to jump out of his hand––particularly against left-handed hitters––and allows the velocity to play up a bit. While his fastball can overpower hitters at times, he must refine the command and get ahead in counts with more consistency.
Other Pitches: The 21-year-old's most promising secondary pitch is a sharp, tight-spinning curveball that helped him record an incredible 70 strikeouts in 32 Dominican Summer League innings last year. Much like his fastball, De Los Santos struggles to command the curve with much consistency, but it can be a legit swing-and-miss pitch and a definite potential plus offering. The young DSL catchers certainly had a problem when he buried the pitch in the dirt, as De Los Santos racked up multiple four-punchout innings in 2009.
He also shows a pretty good feel for a changeup, which has solid sink and fading action. Once again, his command is raw, but De Los Santos isn't afraid to use the pitch and it could be a weapon against right-handed hitters.
Projection: De Los Santos was initially regarded as a starting pitching prospect––and he pitched in the rotation for the AZL Rangers in 2008––but the Rangers seem to have settled on him as a hard-throwing lefty bullpen arm.
While De Los Santos' command is raw and he is a bit of a boom-or-bust prospect, he also has a high ceiling. The Dominican Republic native has the natural talent to be a back-end bullpen arm in the big leagues. However, with still little experience in the U.S., it's obviously difficult to predict whether or not he will approach that potential. But the raw talent is there for him to do so.
2010 Outlook: Because De Los Santos didn't arrive in Arizona until the tail-end of Spring Training, the Rangers want him to get some work in at Extended Spring Training before sending him out to a full-season affiliate. But the pitcher should be one of the first arms out of extended this season, and he will likely join the Single-A Hickory bullpen within the month.
At 21-years-old and with four previous years of professional experience, the Rangers want to push De Los Santos a bit this year. He is still raw in terms of command, but he has the stuff to pitch in a full-season league right now. If things go well, De Los Santos could progress to High-A Bakersfield later this summer. If not, he'll probably spend the year in Hickory––but that certainly wouldn't be a disastrous scenario either, as he has just 40.1 innings of prior experience in the U.S.
|2006||DSL Rangers (DSL)||0-1||34.0||16||15||48||1.59|
|2007||DSL Rangers (DSL)||0-0||2.2||0||0||2||0.00|
|AZL Rangers (RK)||0-1||5.2||7||3||6||6.35|
|2008||AZL Rangers (RK)||0-2||34.2||28||18||54||4.67|
|2009||DSL Rangers (DSL)||1-1||32.0||8||22||70||1.41|