The Los Angeles Dodgers dropped their first game of the spring on Tuesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks, but as is normally the case during Cactus League play, there still were some positives.
One of those was the performance of pitching prospect Dennis Santana, who allowed a double but struck out the other three hitters he faced in his lone inning of work. It was Santana’s second straight strong appearance, and one person who came away impressed was Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
“I thought the star of the day on the mound was Santana,” Roberts said after the conclusion of the 7-3 loss. “The strength that he’s gained, it’s allowed for him to hold his delivery and the throws are really good. The sink is late, slider was really good today. It was really encouraging.”
Santana made his MLB debut for the Dodgers in 2018 but has mostly been plagued by injuries and some off-field issues the past two seasons. All reports about him this spring have been positive though, and his Cactus League outings have shown the progress that the 23-year-old has made.
“If he continues to throw the baseball like he has been, he’s a guy who gives us versatility as a starter and reliever,” Roberts noted.
“The thing with him has never been stuff, it’s just been the ability to execute pitches. He’s a guy that can get righties out, get lefties out. He’s just got to continue to mature, which he is, to his credit. He’s had a great winter and thrown the ball well his first couple times out.”
The Dodgers currently are nine-deep in their starting rotation, so it would take a number of injuries for Santana to crack the rotation. Roberts concluded with noting the plan is for him to continue starting though. “Yeah, absolutely. We’re going to keep building him up,” he said.
Given his electric stuff and versatility, it is more likely that Santana makes an impact for the Dodgers out of the bullpen this season. His versatility could lend to serving as a multi-inning weapon.
Long-term he still projects as a starter, so it certainly is wise of the Dodgers to continue building him up to start the year in the rotation for Triple-A Oklahoma City.
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