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  • Danny Santana: Shortstop Of The Future?

    Shortstop appears to be the weakest position in the Twins organization. Danny Santana is the closest legitimate SS prospect to the majors. But with a .691 OPS this season and 29 errors already (Alexei Ramirez leads all shortstops with 21), does Santana have a legitimate chance to be a franchise shortstop? A closer look gives reasons for optimism.
    Hitting
    Here are Santana’s numbers the last 3 seasons:

    Year PA Level BB% K% BB/K ISO OPS
    2011 409 A 6.1 24 0.26 0.126 0.676
    2012 547 A+ 5.3 14.1 0.38 0.124 0.739
    2013 446 AA 3.9 16.3 0.24 0.086 0.691

    Santana took a huge step forward in 2012, dropping his K rate significantly (leading to a jump in his BB/K ratio) which allowed him to increase his OPS by 60 points and raise his average from .249 to .286. He also maintained solid power for a SS despite moving to the Florida State League.


    However, Santana has regressed this season. He has kept his Ks down, allowing him to maintain his .286 batting average, but his walks have dropped to a minuscule level and his power has disappeared. As a result, his BB/K ratio and OPS have returned to 2011 levels.

    That being said, Santana has progressed throughout the season, increasing his walks each month (2 in April, 3 in May, 4 in June, 9 in July). In fact, his 9 walks so far in July are equal to the amount as he had in the first 3 seasons of the month combined. It turns out that Santana is no stranger to mid-season improvements in the month of July. Check out these splits:

    Split PA Level BB% K% BB/K
    April-June 2011 258 A 5.0% 22.5% 0.224
    Post- July 2011 151 A 7.9% 19.9% 0.400
    April-June 2012 299 A+ 4.7% 16.7% 0.280
    Post-July 2012 250 A+ 6.0% 11.2% 0.536
    April-June 2013 335 AA 2.7% 15.2% 0.176
    Post-July 2013 166 AA 6.0% 18.1% 0.300

    This is rather astonishing. In each of the past 3 seasons, Santana has made a significant improvement in his BB/K ratio starting in July. While his month of July might prove to be an aberration, due to this pattern the past 2 seasons I think it represents a legitimate progression in his plate discipline. If that is the case, 2012 could actually represent a step forward for Santana and he should be ready for AAA at the start of next season.

    Basestealing

    Danny Santana has great speed, but he has always struggled stealing bases. In fact, between 2010 and 2012, Santana never posted as SB% higher than 65%, and it dropped every year. However, Santana has made a big step forward in his basestealing this season:

    Year SB CS SB%
    2010 15 8 65%
    2011 24 15 62%
    2012 17 11 61%
    2013 23 9 72%

    So when did Santana turn a corner stealing bases? The answer, ironically, appears to be during July of 2012. Take a look:

    Split SB CS SB% SB/162G
    2011 24 15 62% 37
    April-June 2012 9 7 56% 21
    Post-July 2012 8 3 73% 24
    2013 23 9 72% 33
    July 2012-present 31 12 72% 30

    Over the past year or so, Santana has looked like a 30SB 70+% guy. Over the past 3 years, just 8 SS have done that even once. And in case you’re wondering, Santana has continued that “every year I improve in July thing”: 9-10 SB in 24 games (68SB/162G).

    Fielding

    However, defense might be the most important factor for Santana going forward; as jdotmcmahon pointed out a few days ago, great defense alone has made Florimon a valuable player (http://twinsdaily.com/content.php?r=...Pedro-Florimon). Santana has the speed and arm necessary to play short, but he has always been error prone:

    Year G E FLD%
    2011 78 27 0.924
    2012 85 18 0.95
    2013 107 29 0.944

    Errors and fielding percentage don’t tell the whole story, but it’s the best we have for minor league players. And as it turns out, Santana’s best fielding percentage of 95% would make him the worst shortstop in all of baseball. To make matters worse, Santana’s fielding percentage has dropped this season so much so that many are questioning whether or not he can stick at short.

    However, Santana’s poor fielding numbers this season are the result of a dreadful start to the year:

    Split E FLD%
    Games 1-43 17 0.919
    Games 44-107 12 0.961

    Disclaimer: the FLD% is based off of Santana season’s average of 4.86 chances per game.

    If we look at the Santana’s past 53 games (which accounts for 57% of his games at SS), he has improved his FLD% from last year’s .950 to .961. Once again, a step in the right direction.

    More importantly, Santana was recently named by Baseball America as the best defensive shortstop in AA. Many people on Twins Daily, including myself, have doubted whether or not he deserved such recognition. However, what we should take away from this is that BA believes Santana should be able to stick at shortstop in the majors. This praise, combined with Santana’s improving fielding percentage, makes me optimistic that he can be an above-average defensive shortstop.

    Conclusion

    Santana’s low K-rate should allow him to consistently hit in the .280-.285 range, which, combined with his basestealing, would be great for a SS. However, due to his lack of power (which has taken a turn for the worse this season), Santana will have to draw walks in order to post a quality OPS. He has increased his BB-rate during the second half of each of the last three seasons. If he can translate that success to the start of next year and continue to build on it, Santana could establish himself as a solid hitting SS at the major league level.

    Although Santana’s season numbers for 2013 are discouraging, he has shown signs of progression. Combined with Santana’s history of mid-season improvement, there is reason for optimism. If Santana can continue to progress as a hitter, fielder, and basestealer, he should be ready for AAA come next April, and might be starting on Opening Day in 2015, when he’ll be 24 years old all year. That will give Santana the chance to establish himself as the Twins’ regular shortstop, although several other prospects could come nipping at his heels in the near future (Goodrum, Polanco, Levi Michael, Mejia, and a potential 2014 1st round pick).
    This article was originally published in blog: Danny Santana: Shortstop of the Future? started by Boone
    Comments 16 Comments
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Good job Boone. I'm skeptical and like Florimon more and more, but appreciate your efforts.

      It would be huge if the Twins feel we already have our SS of the future, so we can use our 2014 pick on a starting pitcher. Next year's draft may go 7-8 deep.
    1. Monkeypaws's Avatar
      Monkeypaws -
      Woah, what happened to BA, HR and RBI?
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Monkeypaws View Post
      Woah, what happened to BA, HR and RBI?
      went the way of the dinosaurs, where they should be...

      Great stuff, btw.
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      I've been wondering if the optimism surrounding Santana was misplaced. This helps me be a lot more optimistic.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      I would think keeping his k rate low is his only chance at being able to hit enough. With his lack of power I don't see him being able to walk all that much so it will be critical to make enough contact to maintain a solid average/OBP.

      Maybe a .265/.310/.330 type of line? If he can do that with good defense and get some bags, that is a borderline acceptable everyday SS.

      Great writeup.
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      RE: Santana's fielding:

      "Many people on Twins Daily, including myself, have doubted whether or not he deserved such recognition."

      Really? Why?

      I have not seen him play. But when the opposing mangers rate him as the best...you have to listen. I heard reports before this year about his excellent defense and to be honest, that BA article makes me satisfied that his defense will hold up, but I am concerned about his OBP.

      If he is able to improve his OBP, his defense + his offensive potential makes him the "SS of the foreseeable future" and more valuable than Florimon - has anyone looked at Florimon's offensive stats lately? (.218/.273/.332)

      Yikes!

      I don't think Florimon's D is good enough to overcome that level of poor production.
    1. troyhobbs's Avatar
      troyhobbs -
      From what Ive seen Santana is not a sure thing that I like to believe Arcia, Sano, Buxton, & Rosario are but he's very athletic with a high ceiling and lots of talent, hopefully he gets there and is not a bust.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Very good article. Santana definitely needs more time refining his defense at short. Another year split between AA and AAA should let him work out those offensive kinks.
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by clutterheart View Post
      RE: Santana's fielding:

      "Many people on Twins Daily, including myself, have doubted whether or not he deserved such recognition."

      Really? Why?

      I have not seen him play. But when the opposing mangers rate him as the best...you have to listen. I heard reports before this year about his excellent defense and to be honest, that BA article makes me satisfied that his defense will hold up, but I am concerned about his OBP.

      If he is able to improve his OBP, his defense + his offensive potential makes him the "SS of the foreseeable future" and more valuable than Florimon - has anyone looked at Florimon's offensive stats lately? (.218/.273/.332)

      Yikes!

      I don't think Florimon's D is good enough to overcome that level of poor production
      .
      He's 26 with 434 major league at bats.
    1. AROG's Avatar
      AROG -
      I've listened to a few games on the radio for the Rock Cats and it seems like their play at 1B has been pretty bad. That you have to throw it to the chest or it's and error, no ability to scoop anything. That may be the reason for a high error mark for all of the infielders. When you know you have to make a perfect throw you start to aim and make even worse throws.

      Can anyone who has watched the Rock Cats this year on a consistent basis confirm or deny my hypothesis, mine is such a small sample size.
    1. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
      Twins Fan From Afar -
      I'll chime in, for what it's worth.
      I think his defense has been downright scary. Fielding and throwing errors.
      I've heard it suggested that the NB infield isn't kept in as good of condition as you would expect, and that might be true, but it didn't stop James Beresford (most recently) from playing a very solid SS.

      This isn't an indictment on Santana. He's a solid hitter with a very strong arm. He just needs work on defense.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      I have heard that younger players with great range can have trouble in the errors department b/c they get to (and attempt to make a play on) balls that others just cannot get to. I'm not sure if there's truth to that, but I specifically remember that linked to some guy named Jose Reyes who is a pretty good defensive SS and make his fair share of errors when he first came up. I'm not worried about the errors if the range is there. However, his bat does not inspire me.
    1. Yossarian's Avatar
      Yossarian -
      Wot? Beresford dissed completely??
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      So, he's the Ben Revere of infielders, hitting wise? Is that how I should read this?
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      So, he's the Ben Revere of infielders, hitting wise? Is that how I should read this?
      That's actually a pretty solid description. I saw him play one game in Beloit in 2010, and 2 in 2011. He's incredibly talented... I love his range and his arm, but he can struggle with the routine plays. He's no James Beresford with the glove, but I haven't seen many who are. Offensively, he's very aggressive, very fast, takes a big swing. He's not big, so he doesn't have as much power as his swing would indicate, but he's a hacker.

      I like his tools a lot, but have said all along he's not that close. That said, I complete agree and agreed with him being kept on the 40 man roster.
    1. Waverley Wildcat's Avatar
      Waverley Wildcat -
      Quote Originally Posted by Yossarian View Post
      Wot? Beresford dissed completely??
      What does this mean?

      As an old pitcher I would hate seeing Santana error another ground ball making me have to go to the next batter, 31 errors so far this season I would not call "good defence"
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