Tyler Santana – Picture by Todd Johnson
Shortly after the draft last summer, the Cubs signed nondrafted free agent pitcher Tyler Santana from Jacksonville University. After going through orientation in Mesa, Santana was assigned to South Bend for the last few weeks of the year. He pitched mostly in relief and I really liked what I saw from him. He could throw from the low to mid 90s and he had a nice breaking pitch. After arriving at South Bend in 2021, Santana threw 20 innings over nine games and started one game. He had a 1.39 ERA and struck out 23 while hitters hit just .239 against him. Those were pretty decent numbers for a guy making a huge leap in competition.
When the opening day rosters were announced in April, I was surprised to see him assigned to Myrtle Beach. I don’t know the reason for that, but I was hoping that he would quickly show that he did not belong there. And he did. But he is still there. He’s done pretty much everything that he could possibly ask of a pitcher. He’s had some spot starts, he’s had several closing opportunities, he’s done a lot of piggybacking, and he’s done it all well.
Throws – Right
From – Miami, Florida
This year, things have varied a little bit from month-to-month so far.
For most of April, he was in a closer role as he only through 8.1 innings and appeared in five games, which is going to be a recurring feature of this post. He struck out eight and walked six. I thought, “OK they’re grooming him to be a closer. I’m on board with this, let’s go!” That didn’t last.
A new month and a new role
In May, he appeared in five games, mostly as a piggyback starter. He threw 19 innings with a 3.20 ERA and struck out 20 batters but walked 10. Opponents hit just .203 against him and I wondered how much longer he was going to be in Myrtle Beach come June.
He was still there at the end of the month has he had a 2.89 ERA on the year.
In June, he threw 24.1 innings With a 2.96 ERA. He also struck out 24 batters and only walked five. After seeing that stat line, I was ready to see him in South Bend when they went to the Quad Cities and again at Beloit.
Still didn’t happen.
In his first action in July, he did not allow an errand run and struck out four in six innings of long relief.
What I like about Santana is that he has four pitches, three with which he can spot in the zone. He has a nice low to mid 90s fastball that has some nice horizontal and vertical down and in to a righty and down and away to lefty. His change is his best pitch as the bottom just drops out. His curve depends on the shape he can get on it. The slider, well, that’s a work in progress.
At this point, he really does not need to be in Myrtle Beach anymore. What he needs is to have a definite role, send him to South Bend and let him work on it there.