The Pirates have no doubt revitalized their farm system with a very strong 2011 draft that featured Gerrit Cole and Josh Bell. They also have Mexican bonus baby Luis Heredia, 2010 2nd overall pick Jameson Taillon, and a number of other intriguing prospects. One player who is almost never mentioned when discussing the future Pirates is utility player Adalberto Santos, drafted in the 22nd round in 2010. Santos, however, could end up as an interesting player for the Bucs.
Santos has played 168 professional games: 63 in the New York/Penn League in 2010 and 105 in the Florida State League in 2011. Across those 168 games, he’s hit .316/.398/.477. That’s pretty nifty, yes?
In particular, Santos has thrived in some difficult offensive environments. The FSL, for one, is often cited as the most pitcher-friendly league in baseball. To post a .404 wOBA there is a tremendous achievement. It doesn’t seem to be fluky, either, as Santos struck out just 13.5% of the time while walking 10.6%. He’s posted a .354 BABIP at both of his minor league stops, which doesn’t seem too unreasonable given the speed he’s demonstrated (44-of-55 on the bases in his career).
One caveat: Santos was drafted just a few months shy of his 23rd birthday, and he turned 24 right after the 2011 season. He’ll need to move quickly. Still, it’s not like his relatively advanced age is a result of a bunch of false starts–he’s succeeded in both assignments he’s been given in pro ball.
Santos played second base and the outfield corners in 2011, and it’s that versatility that will make him appealing on a big league roster. He’ll need to refine his play in the infield after fielding .923 in 26 games at second in 2011, but he has the raw athleticism to make it work.
Overall, one can see Santos becoming Pittsburgh’s answer to Ryan Raburn. That doesn’t change a franchise, but every team needs solid players to fill bench/rover roles behind its stars. If Pittsburgh is going to become a contender in the NL, they’ll need to homegrow many of those guys rather than having to dole out eight-figure deals to the Clint Barmeses of the world. Santos looks on track to be a nice supplemental piece, and has already provided great return for a college senior 22nd-rounder.
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