Blue Jays Nation’s 2023 Preseason Top 50: #11 Dahian Santos
Photo credit:Dunedin Blue Jays
10 months ago
Dahian Santos is one of the more intriguing pitching prospects in the low minors for the Blue Jays.
While his ERA and FIP weren’t “dominant”, his underlying numbers and his electric stuff landed him as Blue Jays Nation’s 11th-best prospect heading into 2023.
As always, let’s start with my criteria.
Instead of writing this out every time I did for the mid-season Top 60, I’ll copy and paste my criteria for how I rank and scout these players.
There are many factors that determine a top prospect. The eye test is the biggest driver in determining a top prospect, but proximity to the majors, ceiling, and floor is also important. Moreover, statistics are another key ingredient, as everything works together to give you numbers.
As for the grades, it’s important to remember that they are relative to the league in which they play. A kid from Dunedin is not going to have a 50-grade hit tool if he were placed in the big leagues. But relative to the league in which he plays, a .300 hitter is eligible to have that grade.
For these prospects, I’ll be reviewing their background, numbers in the minors, pitch mix (if they’re a pitcher), and giving a scouting report (if feasible, rookie league guys are difficult).
Let’s jump in!
Dahian Santos‘ career so far:
The 19-year-old right-handed pitcher was signed from Venezuela during the 2019 international free agency period.
Santos started his professional career in the Florida Complex League in 2021, posting a 4.58 ERA and a 4.09 FIP in 35.1 innings pitched, starting seven of the ten games he appeared in. Moreover, he had a fantastic 35.6 K% and an average BB% of 8.1% for a 27.5 K-BB%. The right-hander had a brief taste of Low-A ball, which he’d come to dominate the next season..
He started the 2022 season with the Dunedin Blue Jays, posting a 3.44 ERA and 3.51 FIP in 73.1 innings pitched, starting 14 of 19 games that he appeared in. Although his BB% rose to 11.5%, his K% took a sizeable jump, as he finished with an insane 39.3 K% at that level. Overall, he finished with a 27.9 K-BB%, the highest of his career so far.
He was promoted to the High-A Vancouver Canadians, where he struggled. Santos had a 10.66 ERA and a 5.64 FIP in 12.2 innings. While he still had an impressive 34.4 K% (especially for a 19-year-old), his BB% jumped to 14.1%.
The struggle came in his first two starts. He allowed an insane 11 runs in just 3.2 innings pitched in those starts For context, batters had a .421 average against him, and walked 23.1% of the time.
After two really rough starts, he finished his last two games with a 4 ERA and a 2.33 FIP in 9 innings pitched. He had a 44.7 K% and a 7.9 BB% in those two games, and was absolutely dominant.
It’s more likely that Santos will pitch like how he did those final two games, rather than the first two games in 2023.
Dahian Santos’ stuff:
Santos has a three-pitch mix. His first pitch is a fastball that sits in the low-90s but has touched 94.3 mph, with a ton of movement. His best pitch is his slider, which sits between 81-85 mph, and had an insane average spin rate of 2726 RPM. He also features a changeup, which is still developing but has been effective before.
Long, slender frame, moderately built-out legs, and a slim upper half with broad shoulders. Santos has some remaining projection and features a very low 3/4 arm slot. When paired with a high whippy, high release point, it is a difficult look for batters. His best pitch is his slider, which has a ton of movement, with plenty of sweep. His changeup has downward and arm-side fade, used primarily against left-handed batters. Santos’ fastball also has a ton of movement and plays best at the top of the zone. He struggled with control and command, and his wind-up isn’t fluid, which could cause problems down the road.
Where he’ll start in 2023:
It’s probable that Santos will repeat the level at High-A, as he only made four starts. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could see Double-A as a 20-year-old in 2023 if he pitches how he did in 2022.
The next step for Santos is to improve his control and command, while adding more muscle which in turn should give him more velocity to work with.
Next up, we have a Canadian who broke onto the scene in 2022. So stay tuned for that!
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