Today is the first day of a series where we’re going to look at every player that will be in Major League camp with the Cincinnati Reds. There will be some background information, profiling, projections, and more between now and the end of the spring. We are going to start out by working our way through the non-roster invitees before getting to the players on the 40-man roster who may be a bit more familiar to everyone. To see all of the posts in this series, you can click here.

Tony Santillan’s Background

Acquired: Drafted by Cincinnati, 2nd round, 2015.

Born: 4/15/1997

Bats/Throws: Right/Right

Height/Weight: 6′ 3″ / 240 lbs.

Years of MLB Experience: None

Tony Santillan is one of the Cincinnati Reds top prospects. The right-handed pitcher is the 4th ranked prospect in the farm system, and the 2nd ranked pitcher. He’s worked his way up through the farm system, making stops at every level along the way through Double-A where he topped out in the 2018 season.

Tony Santillan’s 2018 season

As mentioned above, in 2018 Tony Santillan topped out in Double-A. That’s not where his season began, though. His season began in Advanced-A Daytona where he had a 2.70 ERA in 86.2 innings with 22 walks and 73 strikeouts. In the second half he was promoted to Double-A Pensacola where he threw another 62.1 innings over 11 starts. His ERA was 3.61 with 16 walks and 61 strikeouts in that span.

Tony Santillan’s Playing History

Prior to the 2018 season the big rub against the young right-handed starter was that his control wasn’t good enough, or consistent enough. When he was drafted out of high school he had a big-time arm, but control was a big concern. Prior to 2018 he had thrown 217.0 innings in his professional career and had walked 107 batters. He had always racked up good strikeout numbers, but the control issues, while improving over the years, were still concerning. It was the 2018 season that saw him take a step forward where he found consistency in the control department, along with just overall improvement in the area.

Projecting Tony Santillan for 2019

There’s not much of a chance that Tony Santillan breaks spring training with the Cincinnati Reds. He’s only made 11 starts above A-ball in his career. While his pure stuff doesn’t lack behind almost anyone in the entire organization, he won’t be 22-years-old until nearly three weeks into the regular season. With a seemingly set rotation, and some depth behind those guys, there’s no need to rush him.

Projections for 2019

ZiPS Projections | Steamer Projections | Marcels Projections

How could Tony Santillan fit in Cincinnati in 2019?

As noted above, seeing Tony Santillan in the early part of 2019 doesn’t seem likely. But as the season goes along and he continues to pitch in the minors, if a spot opens up in the rotation he could slide into the rotation if he’s pitching well. It would be unlikely to see him come up in a bullpen role, unless it were at the end of the season and the Reds were in contention. In that scenario, as we’ve seen with others around baseball, a big-time arm coming up late as a potential weapon for a playoff run could be an option.

21 Responses

  1. Doug Gray

    I don’t ever like using the term at the earliest (though I’m positive I have) for guys who have already played in Double-A. At that point, especially for a starting pitcher, they could get the call whenever, especially if they are pitching well and a spot opens up. Luis Castillo jumped right up from Double-A after less than half of a season. Now, the situation was a tad different as the rotation wasn’t in the same shape as it *seems* to be today. But, Castillo and Santillan are kind of the same breed: Big time stuff guys. When those guys seem ready, call them up.

  2. Bmblue

    I think this dude may end up being the best prospect in the whole system other than Senzel. He has stayed healthy too. I think trammel is a sel high candidate especially with Siri emerging.

    Regardless, Santillan doesn’t get enough love and I think a reds rotation anchored by Castillo-Santillan and Gray in a couple years could be really good. All one of those guys could be front end of rotation guys at their potential, not unreasonable to think one will.

    • bmblue

      That was one year not two, and he was coming off the broken thumb. Hes absolutely raked in the dominican this winter, same way he did at Dayton when he was the best hitter in the entire Midwest league. He might be a hot/cold guy, but completely different type of prospect than Billy.

    • Doug Gray

      You are underselling Jose Siri. Somewhat. There’s risk there, no doubt. But he’s more than a “Grade C” prospect. He’s an elite defender with power at a premium position. He needs a .300 OBP to be an above-average player in the Major Leagues because the power/speed/defense is going to be very valuable.

    • Roger Garrett

      Guys we need to remember we just went through 5 years of Billy to see if he would ever hit.Key thing to me that makes all the difference is when Siri does hit it he hits it with power.His speed and defense are comparable right now and well I will just go ahead and say it if he can keep his obp at or above 300 then he should play.

    • Doug Gray

      Only one place uses a letter grade, John Sickels. Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, Fangraphs – they don’t use those kinds of grades.

      And yes, Jose Siri IS a top 10 Reds prospect. Baseball America has him at #9 in the Reds system. Baseball Prospectus has him 8th. Fangraphs has him 7th. He’s 7th on my list.

      So I have no idea where you are looking at, but the consensus is very much in disagreement with what you are saying. Unless the only place you are looking is at John Sickels list.

      As I said, you are underselling him.

    • Doug Gray

      That list hasn’t been updated for the 2018 season.

      You stated that he wasn’t a Reds top 10 prospect. I showed you that he was in fact a Reds Top 10 prospect. I stated that you may be underselling him a little bit, noting that he’s risky, but why he could still be a quality big leaguer. Where is the condescension there? By showing that you were incorrect in your statement? My goodness.

    • Doug Gray

      Prospects from the draft were simply added in. The list hasn’t had a “full redo” to account for the 2018 season. Their lists will be coming out soon. The last time it was updated was at the midpoint of the 2018 season. It has not been updated to include the entirety of the 2018 season.

    • Doug Gray

      I’m really confused here. I simply pointed out that I thought you were selling a guy short, then corrected information that you stated as a fact (that Jose Siri was not a Reds Top 10 prospect). That somehow turned into I’m condescending, people don’t like me, I think I’m smarter than everyone, and the site has taken a turn for the worst.

      Would we all prefer that when someone states incorrect information (and not opinion, but actual facts), that it’s not corrected and just left to be unchecked? I’m just not sure what we’re doing here, Bill. You seemed to get your feathers incredibly ruffled by me pointing out that everyone except John Sickels had a much higher ranking and belief in Jose Siri as a prospect than your original post suggested that he was as a prospect. I wasn’t abrasive. I wasn’t insulting. I stated, “I think you are underselling him here” and explained why I felt that way. Your responses come off as if I were in fact insulting you while stating my disagreement. I don’t know, man. I just don’t get what’s going on here.

  3. Ken

    Is there a setting to turn off embedded video? The play/pause button no longer seems to work. Not a fan of autoplay.

  4. Ben

    Just a little constructive feedback but I think that stat table would be more useful if you put the rate stats (K/9, BB/9, etc) instead of the raw totals.

  5. David Moore

    I didn’t know much about Santillan until recently, but I’m really excited about this guy. I’ve heard you and Chad talk about him and you guys have seem really high on him. I’d love to see him get a shot with the Reds this year.

  6. wkuchad

    It’s a fine line. We have 6 years of major league control and don’t want to waste 2 or 3 because a player’s not ready.

    I’m looking forward to this series of articles, especially with the new guys and minor leaguers.

  7. Big Ed

    Age doesn’t matter nearly as much with pitchers as it does with hitters. Plenty of good pitchers (Jacob DeGrom being Exhibit A) don’t really get started as major leaguers until age 26.

    To me, then, the plan with Santillan should be to bring him up if and only if the team is very confident that he is ready to be effective against big-league hitters. The Reds have him for 6 (or 6.9) years, so their interest is in getting the most they can out of those years. It doesn’t really matter if his rookie season is age 23 or age 25, as long as they get 6 good years out of him. “Rushing” him would likely result in his being ineffective or the first couple of years, which would be a waste of an asset. Bring him up when he is ready, but not before. He might be ready next year, but it is not a big deal if he isn’t.

    They rushed Homer Bailey and he floundered for a couple of years. There is a good argument that they rushed Robert Stephenson through the system, even when control issues suggested caution.

  8. wkuchad

    Per Rotoworld: “Mets re-signed C Devin Mesoraco to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Mesoraco could not find a guaranteed major league deal on the sluggish free agent market this winter after posting a relatively disappointing .221/.303/.398 batting line with 11 home runs and 33 RBI in 84 games last season between Cincinnati and New York. He’ll probably be third on the Mets’ depth chart at catcher leading into 2019, behind Wilson Ramos and Travis d’Arnaud, though the team could look to trade d’Arnaud or even cut him.”

    I am shocked he couldn’t get a one-year deal with a major league team as a backup catcher.

    • Doug Gray

      I don’t think anyone would ever propose the idea of playing in Triple-A instead of sitting the bench in the Major Leagues. He would make more money in a month, sitting on the MLB bench, than he’d get in the minors (even as a free agent) in an entire year in the minors.

    • Doug Gray

      Can he? Well, he could try. But no team is paying him $800,000 to play in Triple-A. $100,000? Maybe.

  9. Tom Mitsoff

    I’m glad the Reds passed. The Phils gave up their number one prospect, and that’s too much for two years of Realmuto. The Reds’ front office drew the line in the prospect-list sand at India, and held to that position. Good for them.

    • wkuchad

      Completely agree with this. We need to strike the right balance of winning baseball but not mortgaging the future. I want/need a few sustained years of consistent winning.

    • Roger Garrett

      I agree 100% and to the Marlins credit they got a big haul.Smart move by the Reds.

  10. Doug Gray

    The report from the Padres guy about Senzel is about all we got. He’s been a baseball reporter for a long time. There seem to be some hits-and-misses in his history, though.