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2019 No. 3 prospect: Dennis Santana

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Our countdown of the Dodgers’ farm system continues with Dennis Santana in the No. 3 spot.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Colorado Rockies Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

If it wasn’t for injury, Santana would not likely return to the list this year. Santana burst out of the gates in 2018 and earned a call-up to fill in to the rotation. He came down with a rotator cuff injury almost immediately thereafter, which might throw his eventual upside and future role into question. While No. 3 might look lofty to some, I simply chose to leave Santana’s score alone from last season, giving him the benefit of the doubt of regaining his plus stuff when healthy.

Before his call-up, Santana was dominating the minor leagues with a devastating power breaking ball with good velocity and a high spin rate. The pitch, almost a spike curve or downer slider, had tremendous action even up in the zone, and almost no minor leaguers could square it.

His fastball had previously been his bread and butter pitch, but he toned down the usage and it might helped it play up last year. He wasn’t pushing his velocity into the upper 90’s again, but was generating heavy sink around 94 mph. He won’t pitch with plus command because it moves so much, but he does keep it in the strike zone.

Santana’s change-up has also become a quality pitch for him, and like the fastball, he generates plenty of movement on the pitch. His new slider-heavy attack plan helped him bump his whiff rate into impressive territory, but relying less on his sinking fastball led to more fly balls last year.

Santana is a former infielder and thus an excellent athlete on the mound. He repeats his simple mechanics and ¾ slot with ease, and often looks effortless. He does rely more heavy on his whip-like arm than his full body for velocity, and has had bouts of fatigue and dead arm in the previous seasons, which compound concerns with the rotator cuff injury.

Santana has not quite looked all the way back in the early going of 2019 despite earning a brief return to the big league bullpen. The Dodgers may need to take it slow with Santana in the first half of the season, and rotator cuffs seem to be more unpredictable in terms of command recovery. He could end up a few spots lower on this list at mid-season, especially with the performances of Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin this year.

If long term durability and stamina concerns push him out of the rotation, Santana still has the upside of a power late inning reliever. He has pitched in the upper 90’s in the past and could do so again in shorter outings, where his already devastating breaking ball could be even more powerful.

As a member of the 40 man roster, the Dodgers will likely keep Santana in the Triple A rotation as long as his health is willing to provide the club with more flexibility to deploy him where needed. He’s not likely to have seen the last of his big league time this season, but as a reliever, he might be hard pressed to find the innings to exhaust his rookie status. If Santana can regain the sharpness and spin rate he showed prior to his injury, he could be a real weapon for Dave Roberts in the second half of 2019.

2019 Top Prospects 3-104

3 Dennis Santana RHSP/RP 22.11 MLB 65 50 65 chance for + SNK, + SL, good command, production injury concern, longterm stamina, poss. reliever
4 Keibert Ruiz C 20.08 AA 65 50 65 elite barrel control, developing pop, upside receiving a little rough, too aggressive at plate
5 Gavin Lux SS 21.04 AA 60 50 60 excellent approach, good hit and pop for MIF, polish ceiling more good starter than all star
6 DJ Peters CF/RF 23.04 AA 60 40 70 excellent athlete/size, + game power, offensive ceiling serious swing and miss, overall hit tool
7 Dustin May RHSP 21.07 AA 60 45 65 electric arm, high spin rate FB and BB, polished arm slot lower, easier on LHH, needs strength
8 Tony Gonsolin RHSP 24.10 AA 55 50 55 developing power asenal, tight SL, athletic old for his level, solid but unspec. production
9 Mitchell White RHSP/RP 24.03 AA 55 50 55 good pitchability, chance for + CT and CV might fit better in relief, uneven '18 performance
10 Jeter Downs SS/2B 20.08 LoA 55 45 60 chance for + hit and above avg pop, speed prod, athl. might not stick at SS long term, body not projectable
11 Edwin Rios 3B/1B 24.11 AAA 55 45 55 hand strength, raw power, solid production ? on defensive home, growing K concern
12 Cristian Santana 3B/1B 23.01 HiA 55 40 55 big raw power, good athlete/size combo, bat speed big swing and miss concerns, still raw for age
13 Diego Cartaya C 17.07 NA 50 30 70 good agility/athleticism for C, feel for hit, upside has yet to play statside, body not as projectable
14 Michael Grove RHSP 22.03 ROK 50 40 60 excellent early college production, K potential, + SL returning from TJ, limited exposure, avg command
15 Josiah Gray RHSP/RP 21.03 ROK 50 45 50 quick, easy arm. flashes tight SL and +FB, still upside poss. relief profile, body not projectable
16 Connor Wong C/2B 22.10 HiA 50 45 50 good athlete for C,solid pop and bip profile, utility swing and miss concern, upside might be reserve
17 Josh Sborz RHRP 25.03 AAA 50 45 50 high floor, command of three pitches, competitive moved to full time relief, likely more middle upside
18 Matt Beaty 1B/3B 25.11 AAA 50 45 50 excellent feel for hit, career production, game pop limited ceiling, future defensive home
19 Robinson Ortiz LHSP 19.03 ROK 50 35 60 lively FB, good athlete, feel for pitching, + CH upside more mid rotation than upper, projection
20 Jeren Kendall CF 23.02 HiA 50 35 60 elite athlete, will flash + to ++ speed and defense needs a complete swing rework, low floor
21 Jaime Schultz RHRP 27.09 MLB 50 40 55 good K potential, + CV and SL, flashes + FB poor command, relief only prospect, HR prone
22 Ben Holmes LHSP 27.07 AA 50 45 50 4 pitch mix, pitchability, sneaky FB, durable build upside of bottom rotation or middle relief, age
23 Morgan Cooper RHSP 24.07 ROK 50 40 55 good frame, + BB with BB manipulation, production has yet to throw professional pitch, shoulder ?
24 Cody Thomas RF/LF 24.06 HiA 50 40 55 good athlete, improving fluidity, still upside swing and miss concerns, may not have enough hit
25 Gerardo Carrillo RHRP 20.07 LoA 50 40 55 electric arm, smooth athlete, chance for + SNK undersized, possibly reliever, command
26 Stetson Allie RHRP 28.01 AAA 50 40 50 power arm, chance for ++ FB, tight SL age, still raw on mound, inconsistent command
27 Yadier Alvarez RHRP 23.01 AA 50 35 55 swing and miss SL, consistently + velo, loose arm poor command, FB doesn't miss bats, maturity
28 Brayan Morales CF 23.04 LoA 50 40 50 good athlete, + to ++ speed, chance for + D inconsistent hit tool, thin build, swing and miss
29 Donovan Casey LF/RF/CF 23.01 HiA 50 40 50 twitchy athlete, bat speed, still upside batted ball profile, still raw at plate, power pot
30 Omar Estevez SS/2B 21.01 HiA 50 40 50 improved bip profile, good pop for 2B, swing plane some swing and miss concern, low dev. path
31 Marshall Kasowski RHRP 24.01 AA 45 45 50 big K production, chance for + FB and CV relief prospect, atypical delivery, age for level
32 Jared Walker 3B/1B 23.02 HiA 45 40 55 + game power, good athlete for size, '18 production still swing and miss ?, defensive home
33 Carlos Rincon RF 21.06 HiA 45 35 60 big raw power, physical upside, bat speed pretty raw offensively, serious swing and miss
34 Jacob Amaya SS/2B 20.07 SS 45 40 55 excellent plate approach, developing feel for hit ? on overall power potential, distance from majors
35 Kyle Garlick LF/RF 27.02 AAA 45 45 50 productive, developing above avg game pop 4th outfielder profile, age, fringe speed
36 Adam McCreery LHRP 26.03 MLB 45 45 50 heavy SNK from high slot, tough 1-7 CV, K potential age, command issues, likely middle relief
37 Jordan Sheffield RHRP 23.10 HiA 45 40 55 flashes + FB and sharp downer BB in short stints pro production, likely relief only at this point
38 Deacon Liput SS/2B 22.09 LoA 45 45 50 good defensive actions, athleticism, some pop, hit likely utility ceiling, uneven college production
39 Darien Nunez LHRP 26.00 LoA 45 45 50 good K production, lively FB and downer BB older signee, likely middle relief prospect
40 Guillermo Zuniga RHSP/RP 20.05 ROK 45 40 55 quick arm, good present velo, chance for + CH, SNK SL flashes fringe, profile poss. relief
41 Logan Salow LHRP 24.06 HiA 45 45 50 good pitchability, K potential, tight SL FB velo can be fringe for relief, age for level
42 Braydon Fisher RHSP 18.08 ROK 45 35 55 athletic and projectable, good run and sink on FB, CH inconsistent mechanics, some effort, still raw
43 Starling Heredia LF/RF 20.02 LoA 45 35 55 strong build, big raw power, decent upside serious swing and miss, bat speed concerns
44 Melvin Jimenez RHRP 19.08 LoA 45 35 55 good arm strength, projectable, chance for + SNK long arm action, command ?, likely reliever
45 Errol Robinson SS 24.06 AA 45 45 45 smooth infield actions, throwing arm, solid athlete ? on overall offensive ceiling, limited power
46 Zach Willeman RHRP 23.00 LoA 45 40 50 good arm strength, repeatable delivery, K potential likely reliever only, longer injury history
47 Zach Reks LF/RF 25.05 AA 45 45 45 good feel for hit, production, high floor age for level, more 4th OF profile
48 Jake Peter 2B/SS 25.11 AAA 45 45 45 fluid LH swing, arm strength, versatile utility/bench upside, ? on overall pop
49 Edwin Uceta RHSP 21.03 HiA 45 40 50 loose and fluid athlete, good pitchability for age smallish build, avg career production, ceiling
50 Wills Montgomerie RHSP/RP 23.10 HiA 45 40 50 spin rate, durable build, flashes + velo and CV still struggling w/ command, likely reliever
51 Daniel Corcino RHRP 28.07 AAA 45 45 45 above avg FB and SL combo, solid command middle relief upside, age, no + offering
52 Yaisel Sierra RHRP 27.10 AAA 45 40 50 good velo, SL will flash +, quick arm command, incon. release, FB can be straight
53 Jesen Therrien RHRP 26.00 AAA 45 45 45 SL flashes +, good command and K production TJ wiped out '18. middle relief/ROOGY upside
54 Michael Boyle LHRP 24.11 AA 45 45 45 solid pitchability, velo ticking up, developing SL avg production, stuff profiles better in short relief
55 Bryan Warzek LHSP/RP 22.02 LoA 45 40 50 huge K production, good action on the FB, compete not projectable, might fit best in relief role
56 Leo Crawford LHSP 22.02 HiA 45 40 50 solid production, command of 3 pitch mix fringe velo, not as projectable, likely back end
57 Romer Cuadrado RF/CF 21.07 LoA 45 35 55 good athlete for his size, chance for plus power huge swing and miss concerns, too raw
58 Drew Finley RHSP/RP 22.09 SS 45 40 50 good spin rate, chance for + CU, still upside poor production as pro, fringe velo, command
59 John Rooney LHSP/RP 22.02 LoA 45 45 45 excellent college production, size, 3 pitch mix no outright + pitch, late rotation or mid relief upside
60 Justin Yurchak 1B 22.06 LoA 45 40 50 excellent plate approach, smooth LH swing defensive home, ? on power ceiling, upside
61 Ryan Moseley RHRP 24.06 HiA 45 40 50 chance for ++ snk, big groundball potential command and walk rate, middle relief ceiling
62 Jesus Vargas RHSP/RP 20.07 SS 45 40 50 chance for + FB, tight SL, solid command, upside 3rd pitch underdeveloped, still raw, injury in '18
63 Max Gamboa RHSP 23.04 HiA 45 40 50 excellent arm strength, + to ++ velo, good frame production does not match stuff, incon. SL
64 Shea Spitzbarth RHRP 24.06 AA 45 45 45 agressive mound demeanor, arm strength, CV middle relief upside, maxed out frame, size
65 Andre Scrubb RHRP 24.03 AA 45 40 50 deceptive, solid K production, CV flashes above avg likely middle relief upside, command wavers
66 Layne Somsen RHRP 29.10 AA 45 45 45 tough overhead BB, production, athletic limited mid relief ceiling, age, avg FB velo
67 James Outman CF/RF 21.11 SS 45 40 50 good size, athletic and defensive rep, chance for + pop raw for a collegian, swing and miss concerns
68 Nolan Long RHRP 25.02 AA 45 45 45 improving K production, flashes + SL, big frame middle relief upside, velocity generally avg
69 Alfredo Tavarez RHRP 21.04 LoA 45 35 50 king sized frame, arm strength, K potential still raw mechanically, repeating arm slot, command
70 Andre Jackson RHSP/RP 22.11 LoA 45 35 50 solid athlete, flashes + FB and CH, upside poor command, SL can flatten, poss. reliever
71 Marcus Chiu 2B/3B 22.03 SS 45 35 50 good athlete, still projectable, above avg pop power over hit profile, ultimate defensive home
72 Jefrey Souffront 2B/3B 21.10 SS 45 40 45 some feel for hit, quick bat, mature plate approach distance from the majors, build not projectable
73 Jose Chacin RHSP 22.00 LoA 45 35 50 projectable frame, tight SL, mid rotation upside present FB avg to fringe, K potential
74 Riley Ottesen RHSP/RP 24.05 ROK 45 35 50 good velo, will flash + SL, arm speed poor production, serious command issues
75 Hunter Feduccia C 21.10 LoA 45 40 45 good feel for hit and plate approach, bat plane little on field action due to injury, upside
76 Zach McKinstry 3B/2B/SS 23.11 AA 45 40 45 pretty swing, good defensive versatility, some pop fringe/utility ceiling, age for level, not projectable
77 Jose Martinez RHSP 19.11 ROK 45 35 50 smooth delivery, advanced feel for age, command not as projectable as peers, distance from majors
78 Leonel Valera 3B/SS 19.09 SS 45 35 50 solid bat speed, decent loft in swing, loose athlete lithe build, distance from majors, power ceiling
79 Niko Hulsizer LF/RF 22.02 SS 45 35 50 big raw power, production, good size ? on overall hit tool, some swing and miss concern
80 Sauryn Lao 3B/1B 19.08 ROK 45 35 50 good bat speed, solid frame, power potential slower to develop, ? on defensive home
81 Devin Mann 2B/3B/SS 22.02 LoA 40 40 50 solid athlete, good plate approach, chance for avg pop defensive home, bat speed ?, poss. utility upside
82 Josh McLain CF 22.06 LoA 40 45 45 excelent bat to ball skills, solid defensive rep little power production, 4th OF upside
83 Gregorio Sequera RHRP 21.04 SS 40 40 50 arm strength, some feel for spin, 3 pitches age for level, likely reliever, command
84 Chris Mathewson RHSP/RP 23.10 HiA 40 40 45 SNK/SL mix, developing K production, command back of rotation, middle relief upside, fringe velo
85 Joe Broussard RHRP 29.05 AAA 40 40 45 solid production, flashes tight SL, durable frame limited upside, velo fringe to avg
86 Stephen Kolek RHRP 21.11 LoA 40 40 45 durable build, four pitch mix, some arm strength long relief or swingman profile, avg college prod.
87 Parker Curry RHSP 25.04 HiA 40 40 45 solid career production, good command, competitive no true plus offering, low rotation ceiling
88 Nathan Witt RHRP 22.11 ROK 40 35 50 good build, projectable, arm strength project arm, distance from majors, relief upside
89 Luke Heyer 2B/3B 22.06 LoA 40 40 45 college production, chance for above avg pop, strong avg athlete, ? on defensive home, bat speed
90 Mike Ahmed 3B/SS/1B 27.02 AA 40 40 45 productive in '16, swing plane, avg pop bat speed, age, limited upside
91 Rolando Lebron CF/RF 20.11 ROK 40 40 45 twitchy, good feel for hit, bat speed undersized, old for level, lower upside than peers
92 Brandon Montgomery SS/2B/CF 23.02 HiA 40 40 45 solid bat to ball skills, High A production, utility limited ceiling, poss. 4A player, age for level
93 Dillon Paulson 1B 21.10 SS 40 40 45 chance for above avg pop, strong build bat speed ?, overall hit tool and ceiling
94 Albert Suarez SS/2B 19.04 ROK 40 35 50 fluid athlete, some projectability, rep for D modest production, distance from bigs, ceiling ?
95 Jair Camargo C 19.09 ROK 40 40 45 some defensive potential, has flashing hitting acumen not as projectable, did not take step forward in '18
96 Jeremy Arocho 2B 20.06 SS 40 40 45 good feel for hit, barrel control, decent athlete limited ceiling, ? on power potential
97 Logan Landon CF/LF/RF 26.01 AA 40 40 45 good athlete, playing speed, some feel for hit not projectable, age, low ceiling, 4th OF type
98 Jacob Gilliland RHSP/RP 19.02 ROK 40 35 50 quick arm, chance for above avg FB and CH poor command, CV can be fringy, raw
99 Daniel Robinson LF 22.05 SS 40 40 45 solid feel for hit, all fields approach, productive limited ceiling, 4th OF profile, power ceiling ?
100 Moises Perez 2B 21.08 LoA 40 40 45 loose athlete, some feel for hit offensive ceiling, lower on defensive spectrum
101 Yeison Cespedes RHRP 21.01 SS 40 35 50 quick arm, good sink on FB, tight SL a little behind on age curve, likely relief only
102 Juan Morillo RHSP/RP 20.00 ROK 40 35 50 projectable build, loose arm, solid K production distance from majors, command, still raw
103 Jerming Rosario RHSP 16.11 NA 40 30 50 projectable, athletic, arm speed, dev. 3 pitch mix very raw, effort in delivery, inconsistent release
104 Ismael Alcantara RF 20.06 ROK 40 30 50 good build, athletic, leverage in swing, power potential old for level, ? on overall hit tool, distance from bigs