Friday Prospect Notes: 5/20/2022

© Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

These are notes on prospects from Tess Taruskin. You can read previous installments of our prospect notes here.

Lisandro Santos, LHP, Atlanta Braves
Level & Affiliate: High-A Rome Age: 23 Team Rank: TBD FV: TBD
3.1 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 10 K, BB

Santos recorded 10 outs on Thursday night, all by way of the strikeout, as he continued a dominant beginning to his 2022 season at High-A Rome. Notching double-digit strikeouts in relief suggests a remarkable outing worthy of top marks. But much like many a crab cake, it turned out there was a bit too much Mayo in the mix for this performance to quite hold together. Santos’ dominance happened to coincide with Top 100 prospect Coby Mayo’s first multi-home run game of the season. Mayo sent a pair of two-run knocks out, punishing Santos by plating the only other baserunners he allowed on the night.

So far this year, Santos has fanned 41 of the 80 total batters he’s faced, against just seven walks. His fastball still sits in the mid-90s and touches 96 mph, as has been the case for the past several years. He pairs it with a high-80s slider with occasional depth that he throws from a consistent arm slot. Much of his effectiveness comes from his ability to hide the ball. Santos sets up on the far first-base side of the rubber from an exaggeratedly closed stretch. His delivery then features a long arm action and a very short stride, with his arm whipping around from a high slot and slinging across his body, sending him spinning towards third base. The video feed for Santos’ Thursday performance was less than ideal for evaluation, but it does make clear his short stride.

Here are a few of his pitches from last night:

In that clip, you can see the dark patch on the mound created by Santos’ landing spot. For comparison, the dark patch further down and to the left was created by opposing pitcher Connor Gillispie, who is a few inches shorter than Santos. Naturally, pitchers of different sizes generate their power differently, and Santos’ short stride is an important element of his deception, but the high camera angle gives a particularly clear perspective on just how different of a look he creates compared to a shorter righty.

I was curious what this looks like on a more scouting-friendly feed, so I pulled up his appearance from May 15 for a better view. As it so happens, his inning of work in that game was his first rough patch of the season. On his fifth pitch, he was charged with a pitch clock violation and the penalty seemed to rattle him a bit, affecting his timing enough that he issued uncharacteristic walks to the first three batters he faced (to that point, he’d issued just three free passes over 16 innings). As he struggled to re-establish his timing, his balance was inconsistent. He’d remain too upright, as opposed to slinging his arm across his body, resulting in an awkward release point that diminished his ability to get on top of the ball, leaving it up and out of the strike zone:

His blip of inconsistency was short-lived; Santos shut down the last three batters he faced in that game, then bounced back with Thursday’s assertive performance (Mayo notwithstanding). It’s unrealistic to expect him to maintain his cartoonish strikeout rate, but the strike throwing is certainly a good sign in terms of his ability to find a role in a big league bullpen.

Nick Pratto, 1B, Kansas City Royals
Level & Affiliate: Triple-A Omaha Age: 23 Overall Rank: 48 FV: 50
2-for-3, 2 HR, 2 BB, 1 K

That Pratto launched the first of his two home runs on Thursday out to dead right isn’t a shock; his power has long been of the extreme pull variety. More surprising is that it the first of his seven home runs of the season to go out to dead right. But lo and behold, coming into Thursday’s contest, four of Pratto’s five home runs on the season had been hit to right center, with the fifth veering over to left-center. None of this is entirely unprecedented, of course – he hit a smattering of home runs to those areas last year, too. But it’s reassuring to see Pratto adjusting in this way. Less reassuring is his strikeout rate; it’s once again around the 30% mark, which is concerning despite the thump he’s showing. Thursday was also Pratto’s third game as Omaha’s starting left fielder and his eighth out of the 29 he’s appeared in so far to come in the outfield, further indicating the org’s desire to get his bat in the lineup, regardless of their current log-jam of corner power producers.

David García, C, Texas Rangers
Level & Affiliate: Double-A Frisco Age: 22 Team Rank: TBD FV: 40
2-for-3, 2 HR, 1 BB, 1 K

Thursday was García’s second career multi-homer game and his first since 2019. That year, he put together an above league-average season at Low-A, but his 2021 failed to live up to that standard. He’s gotten off to a somewhat slow start in 2022 as well, coming into Thursday’s game with a wRC+ of just 51. But he’s walking more and striking out less, so the fact that his bat woke up last night is reassuring. Both bombs were towering shots off of breaking balls, sent out to left field and dead center, with exit velos of 99 and 101 mph. He’s looking more comfortable behind the plate than in years past, too, and has yet to commit an error in his 151.2 innings back there so far this year. If he’s able to make a habit out of performances like Thursday’s, it’ll greatly improve his chances of securing an everyday catching role.

Justin Foscue, 2B, Texas Rangers
Level & Affiliate: Double-A Frisco Age: 23 Team Rank: TBD FV: 45
0-for-4, 1 BB, 1 K

While his hitless line on Thursday night wasn’t too remarkable, I’m using the walk Foscue drew as an excuse to talk about the season he’s put together so far. He started the season striking out more frequently than he walked, but in his more recent games, the balance has tipped in the opposite direction. He’s walked in all but two of his last 13 games, drawing 14 walks against just seven strikeouts in that span. In addition to his patience at the plate, he’s been racking up the extra bases, with more doubles than singles on the season. He put together solid offensive numbers in 2021, and thus far, he’s carried that into this season.

Tess is a contributor at FanGraphs. When she's not watching college or professional baseball, she works as a sports video editor, creating highlight reels for high school athletes. She can be found on Twitter at @tesstass.

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1 month ago

The blurb on Pratto could use some editing and revision. Since Pratto is a left-handed batter, his pull-side is to right field. That 1st sentence also calls into question the following sentences. Are those home runs to left-center? And if so, is his HR spray chart significantly different this year than last? Was he actually a pull hitter this year and last year?