After the jump, we continue by taking a look at the #17 player in the LSB Community Prospect Rankings, lefthanded pitcher Miguel De Los Santos...
Miguel de los Santos is a 6'1", 170 lb. lefthanded pitcher who the Rangers signed out of the Dominican Republic in July, 2006 as an 18 year old. De los Santos immediately went to the Rangers' affiliate in the Dominican Summer League, but from 2006 through 2009, he was a guy who struggled to stay on the radar. De los Santos ended up missing most of 2007 because of Tommy John surgery, and had to spend the 2009 season pitching in the Dominican Republic because of visa issues.
2010 was a breakout campaign for De los Santos, however. Finally back in the United States and recovered from surgery, De los Santos split the year between short-season A Spokane and low-A Hickory and put up solid numbers, combining for a 2.94 ERA in 70.1 innings with 112 Ks. He struggled to build on that in 2011, however, with an 8.04 ERA in 28 innings at Frisco early in the season before he was put on the shelf with shoulder problems. Returning from the d.l., he was demoted to the high-A Carolina League, where he put up a 3.82 ERA in 63.2 innings.
While De los Santos did strike out 142 batters in 94.2 innings in 2011, averaging 13.5 Ks per 9, but was victimized by walk rate of 4.4/9IP. This has been typical of his career...as a professional, De los Santos has struck out an average of 14.3 batters per 9 innings while walking 4.9. Still, his stuff was impressive enough that, despite just 13 appearances and an ERA near 4, Baseball America listed him as the #19 prospect in the Carolina League this season.
LSB likes De los Santos more than others do -- Cole has him at #24, Parks at #25, Newberg at #19, and BA at #29. If you are looking for a reason for optimism going forward, De los Santos did have a 2.55 FIP last season, almost half his ERA (he had a .350 BABIP), along with a SIERA of 2.36.
De los Santos's best pitch is a changeup, with Baseball America grading it as the best changeup in the system, and Jason Parks suggesting it may be the best secondary pitch in the Ranger system. Parks has called it a 70 pitch, while BA has it as a 60-65 pitch, but everyone describes it as having "screwball" action, making it a pitch that should be very effective against righthanders. However, his fastball isn't nearly as strong, with BA putting it at 89-90 mph, and his curveball is still a long way from being viable. In addition, he apparently still has some work to do on his command.
2012 will likely see De los Santos return to AA Frisco, and like many pitchers we talk about on this list, how quickly he advances will depend in large part on whether he stays in the rotation or moves to the bullpen. With just two options remaining, and with De los Santos turning 24 in July, the clock is ticking...still, the potential he offers is such that the Rangers may well give him another full season in the rotation, to see if he can make enough strides with his curve and his command to have a future in the rotation. If that's the case, you'd expect him to spend the bulk of the season in Frisco.
If Texas decides that De los Santos's path to the majors is as a reliever, however, he could be in the major leagues as soon as Opening Day, 2012. As has been well documented, the Rangers are short on lefty relievers at the major league level, and if De los Santos impresses in camp, he could end up beating out the likes of Michael Kirkman and Joe Beimel for a roster spot.