Born: October 16, 1991
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 180
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Signed: Int’l Free Agent, 2013, Pittsburgh Pirates
How Acquired: International Free Agent
Country: Dominican Republic
Agent: N/A

(Pirates Prospects/David Hague)


Santana was within a few days of 22 when he signed, which is unusually old.  In fact, he never played baseball at all until he was 19, as his father insisted that he go to college first.  His fastball sits around 94-95 and can get up to 97 or a little higher.  He also throws a very good slider.

DSL:  1-3-2, 3.72 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 19.1 IP, 1.4 BB/9, 5.1 K/9

Santana pitched in relief in his debut.  He showed very good control, but opponents batted .342 against him.

A-:  1-0-3, 2.70 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 30.0 IP, 1.5 BB/9, 9.6 K/9
A:  0-0-1, 4.38 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 12.1 IP, 2.9 BB/9, 11.7 K/9

Probably because he was old for a Dominican prospect just reaching the US, the Pirates assigned Santana to Morgantown.  He pitched very well there, striking out over a batter an inning and holding hitters to a .219 average, while walking few batters.  The Pirates were impressed enough that they moved Santana up to the West Virginia Power in early August.  He continued to pitch well there, with a higher K rate, but he did have some gopher ball problems, allowing three in just over a dozen innings.  He had no real platoon split between the two levels.

A+:  2-0-0, 0.81 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 22.1 IP, 0.8 BB/9, 8.1 K/9
AA:  2-1-2, 2.83 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 41.1 IP, 2.4 BB/9, 8.5 K/9
AAA:  0-0-1, 5.06 ERA, 1.75 WHIP, 16.0 IP, 3.4 BB/9, 6.8 K/9

Santana continued his rapid rise through the Pirates’ system.  He started off at Bradenton, but after nine dominant outings the Pirates promoted him to Altoona.  He pitched well there through 21 games and they promoted him to Indianapolis.  He had a good deal more trouble in AAA.  He didn’t strike out huge numbers of hitters at the two lower levels, but his K rates were comfortably above the league averages, which were 7.6 K/9 in both cases.  He was helped by low BABIPs, .220 at Bradenton and .264 at Altoona.  Conversely, in AAA he suffered from a very high BABIP of .382.  His FIP, oddly enough, was slightly better in AAA than AA, 3.61 to 3.67.  He was a very strong groundball pitcher throughout.  On the season as a whole, Santana dominated left-handed hitters, holding them to a .469 OPS.  Right-handed hitters had a .691 OPS against him.

AAA:  1-3-8, 2.79 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 58.0 IP, 1.9 BB/9, 8.4 K/9
MLB:  0-0-0, 3.50 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 18.0 IP, 6.0 BB/9, 10.0 K/9

Santana pitched very well early in the season at Indianapolis, with a 1.55 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in April and May.  The Pirates called him up in June and he scuffled a little in nine outings, giving up five walks and five earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings.  When he went back to AAA in early July, he struggled for a while, with a 4.61 ERA and 1.90 WHIP over the remainder of the month.  With the exception of one outing in August, Santana stayed in AAA until Indianapolis was out of the playoffs, and then moved up to Pittsburgh.  He had nine scoreless outings over the rest of September, although he had control problems.

MLB:  3-4-0, 3.26 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 66.1 IP, 1.6 BB/9, 7.3 K/9

Santana stayed with the Pirates all year, appearing in 69 games.  They used him mostly to pitch the seventh inning, but sometimes in the sixth and eighth.  He didn’t get off to a great start, with a 4.50 ERA, but the Pirates stuck with him and he was outstanding in July and August, with a 0.66 ERA.  He had a rough month in September, with two bad games that inflated his ERA from 2.42 to 3.26.  Unfortunately, his season ended when he hurt his elbow on a pitch in September 21.  He had Tommy John surgery almost immediately afterward.  For the season he showed very good control, but didn’t miss as many bats as you’d expect.  He had only a limited platoon split.


Santana missed the season after the surgery.


Santana looked good in spring training, before the sport was shut down.  When rosters came out for the shortened season, though, he was suspended for 80 days due to a positive test for a performance-enhancing drug.  That cost him all of the truncated 2020 season.

Santana got himself established as a key reliever for the Pirates, so the injury and suspension were disappointing.  He appeared to be nearly ready in spring 2020 and the Pirates certainly need help in the bullpen.  Although he didn’t serve 80 games, the suspension was satisfied by him missing the entire season.  He was healthy in spring training, but appeared rusty and was optioned at a relatively early stage.

UPDATE:  The Pirates designated Santana for assignment early in the season when they acquired Kyle Keller.

2021: Major league minimum
2019: $581,500
Signing Bonus: N/A
MiLB Debut: 2014
MLB Debut: 6/10/2017
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2023
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: June 10, 2017
Options Remaining: 2 (USED:  2017)
MLB Service Time: 2.048
October 12, 2013: Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an international free agent.
June 10, 2017: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
April 5, 2021:
Designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates.