On September 10, 2012, the Milwaukee Brewers made a roster move that would change very little for the organization. That day, they picked up left-handed pitcher Miguel De Los Santos off waivers from the Rangers after Texas had designated him for assignment.
Up to that time, De Los Santos had spent seven seasons in the Rangers organization. He started as a 17-year-old (allegedly) in 2006, pitching in the Dominican Summer League. Strikeouts were abundant for De Los Santos. Over his minor league career, he had a 13.6 K/9, striking out 504 batters over 332 innings. As a 20-year-old in the Dominican Summer League in 2009, he struck out 70 batters in 32 innings for an absolutely insane 19.7 K/9. Granted, it wasn't against the most sterling of competition, but that's still a number that would perk up anyone's ears.
By 2012, he had reached Double-A. That year, he would make 26 appearances for Frisco in the Texas League, pitching to a 5.22 ERA and striking out 10.7 batters per nine innings.
When he was first picked up, the Brewers were praised by multiple people. Unfortunately, that praise couldn't help the team get any value out of their waiver claim. De Los Santos would never actually throw a pitch in the Brewers' system. For two years, the southpaw was under Milwaukee control. Four days ago, the Brewers cut their losses and cut him.
What happened to De Los Santos? Though technically a member of the Brewers' 40-man-roster, he never really counted as he spent nearly all his time in the organization on the restricted list. At this point, after two years of inactivity, even Wikipedia seems over him:
De Los Santos was originally placed on the restricted list early in spring training of 2013. A few weeks prior, he had been optioned to Double-A Huntsville. De Los Santos had recently undergone surgery on his shoulder at the time, and was expected to miss spring training anyway. According to assistant GM Gord Ash at the time:
"We decided we’d rather get him fixed now and get it over with instead of going into the season wondering when he’s going to break down," Ash said. "He should be back by July."
Despite being projected to return at mid-season of 2013, De Los Santos never did. The only game De Los Santos saw any action in after his claim by the Brewers came in December 2013 during the Dominican Winter League when he made (it seems just) one relief appearance for Licey, allowing one (walkoff) walk in one inning.
His shoulder surgery wasn't the only thing keeping him out, as he also was dealing with a visa issue at the time. Following the 2013 season, Adam McCalvy reported that there were also discrepancies with his age and identity and that MLB was investigating.
Identity problems aren't uncommon in the MLB. Roberto Hernandez originally entered the league as Fausto Carmona, playing six seasons for the Indians under that name before being found out and having it discovered that he was actually three years older than he claimed to be. Following his real identity coming out, Hernandez missed much of 2012 due to his lack of a valid visa. MLB also suspended him for three weeks.
Other players, like Juan Carlos Oviedo (Leo Nunez), Jairo Beras and Juan Carlos Paniagua have all also used fraudulent identities for various reasons. Now-Cardinals prospect Aledmys Diaz falsified his age in an effort to skirt MLB's international signing rules and earn more money.
It normally doesn't take terribly long for any visa issues to be cleared up, even after it is learned a player previously falsified their ID. Every spring training there are players that have issues (including veterans like Francisco Rodriguez before 2014), but they rarely miss much time. McCalvy reported in mid-December 2013 that MLB was expected to have a resolution on De Los Santos soon.
McCalvy ended his tweet with an ominous: "Won't remain with the org." In response to questions, Tom Haudricourt chimed in saying De Los Santos was unable to leave the Dominican Republic (because of his visa issues) and the Brewers seemingly saw it as unlikely De Los Santos would ever pitch in America again. De Los Santos had tried moving to Venezuela previously, but that attempt apparently did not make it easier for him to be granted a visa.
Still, despite the team's beat reporters expecting De Los Santos to be released sooner than later, he lingered in limbo for nearly another full year. Anyone checking the Brewers' 40-man roster on the team's official site would have seen his name with a note that he was on the restricted list.
The Brewers were allegedly very high on De Los Santos, who was a strikeout king with a great changeup. They were high enough on him to keep him on the roster for two years despite never getting any return on their investment. De Los Santos couldn't stay on the roster forever, though.
There are other Miguel De Los Santos's out there -- guys who look to have a ton of potential, but who never amount to much of anything. This one could have been a steal for the Brewers but it just never worked out.