The Curious Case of Anthony Santander, Part 1

File:Anthony Santander 2018 (cropped).jpg

Anthony Santander, May 2018 (photo by Keith Allison, via Wikipedia)

In yesterday’s post, I declared the “Best of the Week” for last week to be Anthony Santander’s interactions with the fans in left field. I noted that it’s about time that Santander got some recognition. But who is Anthony Santander?

Santander was born in Margarita, Venezuela, on October 19, 1994. He is currently an outfielder with the Baltimore Orioles, but was originally signed by the Cleveland Indians. The Indians signed him to a minor league contract as an international free agent on July 2, 2011, when he was 16 years old. He received a signing bonus of $385,000, which was reported to be the 29th largest bonus of any international signing at the time. Since then, the ups and downs of his career have been somewhat dizzying.

On June 20, 2012, Santander began his professional career with the Arizona League Indians. (The AZL is a rookie-level league with teams playing at the spring training complexes in the Phoenix area; the MLB teams with affiliates in the AZL are: the Angels, A’s, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Giants, Brewers, Dodgers, Indians, Padres, Reds, White Sox, Mariners, Rangers, and Royals.) Santander hit .305 with 4 home runs and 43 RBI in 43 games in the AZL in 2012. After the 2012 season, the blog, Baseball Prospect Nation, noted that at age 17 Santander demonstrated “good natural hitting ability and advanced approach for his age.” The site also stated that he had “potential for average defense and likely below-average arm strength. Will have to hit a ton to have big-league value. Could be an above-average regular if offensive tools materialize to maximum extent. Boom or bust type.” The report concluded, “Likely 4-5 years away from being on the big-league radar.”

In 2013, Santander was assigned to the single-A Lake County Captains, where he played for the entire season, with the exception of a 7-day stint on the DL. He spent 2014 with Lake County as well, though he was placed on the “7-day DL” again in June for the reminder of the season. He began the 2015 season on the DL and then was assigned to the short-season A Mahoning Valley Scrappers on June 19. He was reassigned to the Lake County Captains on June 28, where he spent the remainder of the season.

After spending the MLB off-season in the Venezuelan Winter League (though only appearing in 9 games, Santander joined the single-A Lynchburg Hillcats for the 2016 season. Healthy and with just one team for the season, Santander batted .294 with 20 home runs and 95 RBI. Unfortunately, after the season ended, Santander had surgery on his right arm. Nonetheless, this did not deter the Baltimore Orioles from picking him up in the Rule 5 draft in December 2016.

So why is Santander’s case “curious” and why am I continuing it tomorrow in Part 2? Because there are so many unanswered questions: (a) why was Cleveland so eager to keep him, despite all the injuries, and why did they let him go in the 2016 Rule 5 draft?, (b) did he really get a fair shake with the Orioles?, (c) is his story similar to other international free agents or other players in general, (d) how will he ultimately fare in the major leagues, and (e) from a sociological perspective, what does this mean for the fans? We may not be able to answer all of these questions, but reviewing his career so far is quite interesting.

Stay tuned …

~ baseballrebecca

Santander’s Teams and Stats Summary: 2012-2016

Year Team League Level From To Games Avg.
2012 AZL Indians Arizona League Rookie 6/20/2012 8/26/2012 43 .305
2013 Lake County Captains Midwest League A 4/29/2013 7/19/2013 61 .242
2014 Lake County Captains Midwest League A 4/4/2014 6/5/2014 43 .184
2015 Mahoning Valley Scrappers New York-Penn League A- 6/19/2015 6/26/2015 8 .419
2015 Lake County Captains Midwest League A 6/28/2015 9/6/2015 64 .278
2015 Navegantes del Magallanes Venezuelan Winter League FgW 10/8/2015 10/25/2015 9 .100
2016 Lynchburg Hillcats Carolina League A+ 4/7/2016 9/4/2016 128 .290

Table adapted from: