Gregory Santos, RHP
BATS: R / THROWS: R
ACQUIRED: Traded from Boston with Shaun Anderson for Eduardo Nunez, July 2017
ORIGINALLY SIGNED: International Signing, Aug. 2015 (with Boston)
LAST LEVEL: Triple-A
VOLATILITY: Very High
GiantFutures 2022 Ranks: #4 Relief Pitcher, #28 Overall
Performance: Santos’ 2021 was as much about off-the-field moves as on, and that’s taking into account he made his MLB debut! The climb that Santos has had up the minors has been slow since his debut in 2016, not making full-season ball until 2019 in Augusta, but had an encouraging season despite a shoulder issue limiting him to just eight starts. Before 2021, he was added to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, which necessitated his move to the bullpen to move faster.
With a late start to 2021, Santos was called up to the Majors in April, effectively straight from Low-A (and a lost 2020), and while his velocity was apparent, Santos struggled in his cup of coffee, with a 22.50 ERA, allowing two walks and five hits in 2.0 innings, with three of those hits being home runs. When the minor league season started, he got moved back to Triple-A, and still had some struggles, allowing multiple runs in three of his first ten games at the level. He appeared to have been rightening the ship by late June, but then tested positive for Stanozolol, a banned PED, and was given an 80-game suspension that effectively ended his season. Santos did get into the Arizona Fall League late in the year, posting a 4.15 ERA across 13.0 innings (10 appearances), with 12 strikeouts to five walks.
Strengths and Weaknesses: Santos has some of the team’s best pure velocity, with the ability to hit triple digits, but sits more in the high-90’s range with good sink. His main secondary pitch is a slow slider, that mainly lives in the low-80’s, but gets more effective with more velocity. He also has a changeup, though that was used less once he was moved to the bullpen.
For Santos, the challenges start with control and health. Control issues are no surprise for a power pitcher, though Santos had made huge strides before the pandemic, and before his shoulder issues. In his 2021, the control issues had returned, but he never really had great time to shake off the rust of a lost season, and was put in a position to fail with a far-too-early callup. It’s hard to estimate how much, or how little, that little prelude to the season affected him. Health has obviously been another big issue, having lost much of 2019. At 21 years old, with five seasons of actual pitching under his belt, he’s never pitched for a full season, and has topped out at 49.2 innings.
However, a bigger challenge is facing Santos: he is simply a hittable pitcher. Since his DSL years, his best season for giving up hits was 2019 in Short-A, when he allowed 34 in 34.2 innings for a .256 average, and four home runs. But batters get hits off of him, and more notable, can hit him hard, particularly left-handers.
2022 Outlook: A return to Sacramento is clear for Santos, with a lot of work. He needs to get healthy and build stamina for a full season, but he also needs to work on his pitches, and focus on getting left-handed batters off his pitches.
Future Profile: Santos would seem to have closer stuff by the numbers, but needs to be less hittable. His ceiling will be in a setup mix, but his floor is out of the majors at this point.