Of the four prospects acquired by the Brewers in the Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers trade with the Astros, Domingo Santana might be the player most likely to join the major league squad in 2015. For now, he's ticketed for Triple-A Colorado Springs, but Santana has seen some -- albeit not much -- playing time in the majors already.
Unfortunately, that time in the majors has not been particularly great as he has batted .179/.233/.321 with a couple of homers. Of course, that came in just 20 total games between 2014 and 2015, so it's difficult to really put much stock in those numbers so instead it's maybe a little better to look at his MiLB stats and WHOA MOMMA.
Santana has absolutely been crushing Triple-A pitching this season to the tune of a .320/.426/.582 line with 16 homers in 75 games for Fresno as a 22-year-old. This is by far his best season at the plate, but that's not to say his previous years haven't been great as well. Overall, Santana is a .278/.371/.483 minor league hitter with a high of 25 homers in 2013.
However, Santana also strikes out a fair amount and there are some concerns about his ability to his as well against major league pitching. What Santana does have, though, is raw power. Here's what Crawfish Boxes had to say in their post about the prospects heading to Milwaukee:
He's one of the more frustrating prospects for Astros fans. An Astros by a mistake originally in a Phillies trade. However, his power helped him rise all the way to the majors. He was quite awful last year in a very brief stint in the majors. This season he did much better in a second stint, even had a positive advanced stats. He continues to have contact issues and a very high strikeout rate that could prevent him from being anything close to his high ceiling. He's still quite young and could still figure it out. We rated him a B prospect and number seven in the system.
Santana was ranked the 71st-best prospect in the nation by Baseball America before the season began, and was 87th-best by MLB.com in their midseason update. Here's what Minor League Ball said about Santana in their look at the Brewers' return on this trade:
An extremely talented player with flaws, the right coaching could turn Domingo Santana into an All-Star. Santana, 22, has been excellent this year in Triple-A Fresno. He has slugged 16 home runs and owns a .320/.426/.582 line in 75 game. Yes, his strikeout totals are still a concern. But Domingo's 27.9% K rate is actually an improvement on his career numbers and his 14.7% walk rate is a professional high. The 22-year-old even held his own in a 42 big leagues at-bats this year (111 wRC+). I may venture to say that Santana could have a higher ceiling than Phillips. Should he improve his contact (and avoid the Chris Carter comparisons), he could be a really valuable bat in Milwaukee's lineup. Right-handed sluggers in today's game are extremely rare. And the Brew Crew got a young, cheap, controllable, and major league ready one in Santana.
Santana has primarily played right field in the major leagues, starting there in 508 of 592 games. Santana is a big guy, standing at 6'5" and 225 pounds, which fits his power. Right now, however, it's difficult to see where he might fit on the Brewers barring more deals. He's not a center fielder and right field is occupied by Ryan Braun and the Brewers have a somewhat similar player in Khris Davis in left field. Dominguez has never played first base so it's unlikely the Brewers would try to move him there.
But the Brewers don't need to fit him in right away. They can always see what happens the rest of this season and next spring and see if/when he's deserving of another shot at the big leagues. Santana has a strong enough arm for right field if that's where he lands. His defense isn't anything to write home about, but it's not bad either.
What to expect from Santana when he does get his shot is likely some immediate frustrations. He's had a lot of contact issues, and facing even better pitching might exacerbate the problem. Fangraphs has a great look at his batting tendencies that help paint a solid picture. Sometimes there are prospects that don't have much of a middle ground -- either they put it all together and become stars, or they fail spectacularly. Santana might be one of those guys.
If Santana does put it together, it's possible he's the best player acquired by the Brewers in this trade. If he doesn't...well, at least the Brewers got three other good-looking players as well.