As Cactus League play progressed over the past few weeks, the Los Angeles Dodgers continued getting looks at some Minor League players that can potentially help them down the road.
Zach McKinstry and Cody Thomas stood out for their contributions at the plate, recently drawing praise from Max Muncy. Dennis Santana additionally impressed the Dodgers coaching staff with his stellar performances on the mound.
In six Spring Training appearances, Santana has tossed 5.1 scoreless innings, allowing only three hits with 10 strikeouts against one walk.
To no surprise, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pinpointed the right-hander as one of the players that caught his eye in camp, via Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
“I think that if you’re talking about standouts up to this point in camp, he’s at the top of the list,” Roberts said. “There’s a lot of layers with Dennis. Getting called up early at a young age, there’s immaturity – obviously, as expected. … The body wasn’t filled out yet. He’s grown up, emotionally, and physically he’s put in a lot of work in the weight room. So now he’s able to kind of finish his delivery with the strength of the front side, the lower half, the upper body and (he’s) really understanding what his pitch mix is supposed to look like and what gets big-league hitters out.
“Now you see there’s a high percentage of quality pitches with the sinker, with the slider and everything he does now is for a purpose. To his credit, he’s watched the guys in that clubhouse and he’s really grown. Dennis is right there at the front of the conversation, really, for our club.”
Santana was once considered a top pitching prospect in the Dodgers’ farm system. Santana made his MLB debut in 2018, but a shoulder injury limited him to just one appearance against the Colorado Rockies on June 1.
While Santana managed to avoid rotator cuff surgery, he was unable to take the mound again that season. He made three appearances for the Dodgers last April, but struggled and spent the rest of his 2019 campaign with Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Santana’s improved results this spring could help his case for a spot on the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster — whenever that is. Roberts singled him out as the “star of the day” in a loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
While the organization still views Santana as a starter, his ability to log multiple innings out of the bullpen would further strengthen a unit that is expected to be improved this season.
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