When the Cincinnati Reds selected Tony Santillan in the 2nd round of the 2015 draft the reports were mostly the same. Big arm strength, but control problems. In the first two seasons of his professional career, the control problems were there. He walked 11 batters in 19.2 innings in 2015. The next season he walked 40 batters in 69.1 innings. Last season, though, things took a big step forward. In 128.0 innings he walked 56 batters. That came along with 128 strikeouts, just 104 hits allowed, and a 3.38 ERA for the Dayton Dragons.

It was that performance that led to the Reds promoting Tony Santillan to the next level. He opened up the season as the Daytona Tortugas opening night starter. He was charged with an unearned run over 4.0 innings with two walks and five strikeouts. Working on a limited pitch count led to an early-ish end to the outing.

The next time out the least was a bit longer for Tony Santillan, and he came through with 6.0 shutout innings. He held Charlotte to just one hit, and he had two walks to go with eight strikeouts. It was more of the same the next time out. Taking on Tampa he threw 6.0 shutout innings, this time without a walk. And he added five more strikeouts.

Yesterday afternoon he ran his streak to begin the year without an earned run up to 21.0 innings. A leadoff home run in the top of the 6th inning would end the streak there. But, that was the only run that he would allow over 6.2 innings that only included one walk, and added another six strikeouts.

Four starts on the season for Tony Santillan. One earned run, five walks, 14 hits allowed, and 24 strikeouts in 22.2 innings pitched for the Tortugas. For those of us who aren’t a human calculator, I used an actual calculator to figure out that his ERA is 0.40 this season.

That the stats are this great, is outstanding on it’s own. That they are coming from Tony Santillan, who is right there with Hunter Greene as the best stuff in the entire farm system, is a different kind of outstanding. Armed with a fastball that can sit in the 94-98 MPH range and touch triple digits, a plus change up and a potentially plus slider, there’s a lot of reason for the Reds, and their fans to get excited about what’s happening right now. And it’s not going unnoticed, either. Santillan made this weeks Baseball America Hot Sheet for his performance to begin the season (and more specifically, last week).

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22 Responses

  1. Ghettotrout1

    Doug – Quick question not really related to this. How long do you anticipate the Reds not trying Garrett in the rotation given the struggles of Finnegan. Is Finnegan basically locked into the rotation barring injury?

    • Doug Gray

      The longer Garrett stays in the bullpen, the less there is a chance he’s getting back into the rotation. And, honestly, I get the feeling he’s not going back to the rotation. I haven’t talked with anyone in any official capacity, but you hear things here and there, too.

      With that said, I think it’s a mistake to not be getting him starts right now, and in Triple-A. I don’t think anyone currently in the starting 5 should be run out of the rotation yet. But, I’m not willing to lock anyone in without continued production. Right now, there hasn’t been enough time for me to say “so-and-so isn’t cutting it”. But, if some of the guys continue to have struggles, I’d much rather have Amir Garrett starting and stretched out in Triple-A as a potential option to go to if we do get to that point, than to not have him stretched out and ready to go.

      • Hal

        Doug – since we went to this topic I also have a question for you. Assuming that Garrett does stay in the bullpen, would that make you (as GM) more likely to trade Iglesias for a haul at the deadline? I ask because Garrett has the look and seemingly the mentality of a closer and if he is going to stay in the pen you now have a replacement. Not that having a closer seems to be relevant to this years’ squad.

      • Scott C

        I agree with what you are saying, except that even if Garrett is sent down, I think the next starter up will be Stephenson and perhaps rightly so. With that said I think that Garrett is another example of mismanaging of a player by the Reds.

      • RobL

        OK, so last night in your post about guys on minor league contracts, you responded to my post that you would prefer for BobSteve, Reyes, and Mella be in the big league pen as opposed to Quack, Floro, and Gallardo. This seemed reasonable (if not consistent) so I said, ok. But now you say that it’s a mistake for Garrett to not be in AAA starting. So for the other three, (I do remember that you don’t consider Reyes a starter going forward) they should be in the pen, but Garrett shouldn’t? Seems like flip flopping.

      • Doug Gray

        I listed about 8 guys that I’d put in the bullpen over those guys. I’m not flip flopping on much of anything. In a world where I’m making the decisions, Amir Garrett would be in Triple-A starting at this point in the season. I’d have Jimmy Herget in the bullpen in his place.

  2. MK

    Santillan is the hole package. He has very broad shoulders which should stand up to the wear and tear of an innings eater. His personality is pretty laid back. Think he has that fire he needs to be successful but he also never lets good or bad show.

    • The Duke

      6’3″ 240 lbs is a pretty solid base to hold up over a long season. As long as he doesn’t let his weight get away from him, that kind of size can be a real asset in terms of longevity.

    • Pokey Reese's Red Hot Bat

      If he’s the hole package does that making him the missing piece? ;)

      • rgslone

        I tried to post a thumbs-up for you Pokey, but I’m not computer literate enough. That made me laugh.

  3. redleggingfordayz

    Santillan and Greene are currently performing beyond my original expectations. I hope to see more of the same throughout the rest of the season. The future could be brighter than some think for the Reds rotation if they can find 1 more guy to throw in this mix.

    • Bromleyjake

      Revisit comment about Green performing beyond expectations after looking at tonight’s boxscore.

  4. wes

    Santillan started in Dayton and then got sent to Billings after getting shelled. He rebounded nicely! Hope Garcia can follow that trail if need be.

  5. MikeinSoCal

    Nothing fragile about Santillan. Hey Doug, curious about Mitch Nay. Does he have the glove to stay at 3rd or is 1st base more likely?

    • Doug Gray

      I honestly don’t know at this point, Mike. I’ve only seen him hit since he joined the organization, and what I did see of him defensively was years ago and several knee surgeries ago. He was the DH in the games I saw him play in out in Goodyear. Wish I had a better answer for you, but I’ll get something better than that as the season goes along.

  6. Kong

    So what is the baseball logic of taking a potential left handed starter, who might actually be able to pitch 200 ininings consistently, and turning him into a seldom used reliever? What is the fascination that Walt and his apprentice have with taking left handed starters and turning them into relievers? I mean the Reds might be the worst organization in baseball developing starting pitching. The results speak for themselves. So when does it make sense for them to start doing the opposite of everything they think they should do?

    • Doug Gray

      The usage of Amir Garrett has been confusing. In several ways. First, I’m not sure I understand throwing him in the bullpen, but Dick Williams spoke about it last week that they wanted him to experience success and felt that right now the best chance for that was in the bullpen. And that starting int he future isn’t out of the question.

      I’d go about it differently, for sure. But, I can at least understand that plan. What I don’t understand is how he’s thrown 4 total pitches in the last week. If you are going to put him in the bullpen, use him.

  7. Michael

    Not really Reds related but kind of is. Would be interested in a retrospective on Didi Gregorious. He’s taking NY by storm. Was there any thing you saw that showed this in him Doug or anyone else? Big miss on the Reds part or just a player continuing to grow and flourish outside of the Reds system?

    • Doug Gray

      I think the Reds generally had him pegged right. He’s shown a tad more power than was expected from him. But, that’s all shown up with the juiced baseball – something you couldn’t have predicted six years ago. Ken Griffey Sr, for example, said Didi was going to grow into average-ish MLB power, 15ish homers. Put that, plus a juiced ball, into the new Yankee Stadium with that ridiculously short right-center, and you get the power he’s showing now.

  8. Rich H

    Doug, I want to take a moment and thank you for your patience and *generous* responses to so many comments here recently. I’m sure that the frustrations with the Reds’ start is manifesting here. Thanks for putting in great work and content, and I hope the (seemingly to me) surge of baselessly combative/nasty/downright insulting comments ain’t getting ya down. It’s frustrating for my buds and I, imagine it isn’t a lot of fun for you either.