Player: Benito Santiago Jr.
Drafted by: San Francisco Giants
DOB: 3/31/1995 (Age: 19)
Height/Weight: 5'10", 175 lbs
School: Coral Springs Christian Academy (Florida) HS
College Commitment: Tennessee
The son of a former MLB catcher, Benito Santiago Jr. looks nearly identical to his father in appearance. He's just a couple of inches shorter but has the same body type and, unsurprisingly, has played catcher.
Santiago is going to join professional baseball 32 years after his father was signed by the San Diego Padres. He's got a long way to go before matching the 20-year career carved out by the senior Santiago, with whom the 2014 draftee hasn't had much contact in recent years, per Walter Villa of The Miami Herald, but the second-generation star is more than just a legacy player taken as a draft courtesy.
Helping Santiago's draft stock, or at least the number of times he's been scouted, is his being the primary catcher for first-round pick Touki Toussaint at Coral Springs Christian Academy. Sometimes a number of looks at a player can be a good thing, leaving scouts with something to remember and forcing them to draft you.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.
Santiago has a simple swing with good path through the zone; average bat speed produces consistent contact; too much weight transfer, starting out front and moving back before lunging forward, could produce problems making contact; shows the ability to hit the ball to all fields.
Even with the good swing path, Santiago doesn't produce much power; slight frame doesn't produce much natural power; flat swing leads to more line drives and balls into gaps; wrist strength is marginal at best; no substantial load to really drive the ball; bat speed could help project marginal home run totals if the hit tool plays up.
Plate Discipline: 35/40
The biggest obstacle standing in Santiago's way is his approach at the plate; very aggressive, trying to attack anything close to the zone; needs to establish he can catch fastballs with velocity; off-speed stuff is kryptonite; lunges off his back foot frequently; doesn't have the bat speed to make up for lack of approach against velocity.
Despite being a good athlete, Santiago is still a short, stocky catcher; running speed is decent for a backstop, but below average compared to normal players; some instincts on the bases should make him more than a station-to-station runner.
Santiago's work behind the plate is messy; athleticism helps him move behind the plate; receiving is below-average with very stiff actions and inability to stop anything in the dirt; has the body and arm to project as a fringe-average regular, but a long way to go before getting there.
The one above-average tool Santiago has coming into professional baseball is arm strength; should play up thanks to athleticism and ability to get out of the crouch quickly; improved footwork will help accuracy.
MLB Player Comparison: Rob Brantly
There was a time when Rob Brantly looked like a potential starter on a first-division team thanks to a short swing that produced high averages and on-base totals, even though his approach and walk rates were never very good.
Santiago's ceiling is the Brantly who came up through the system in Detroit and Miami thanks to his sweet swing and potential to make contact. Defense has never been the strong suit for either player, which makes the comparison even more apt.
Projection: Fringe-average starter on second-division roster
MLB ETA: 2018
Chances of Signing: 40%
There is a lot of work for Santiago to do before becoming a viable MLB prospect, so it would be in his best interest to go to college for three years and see if he can improve his draft stock.
Even though it's not one of the premier baseball programs in the conference, Tennessee is still an SEC school that will allow Santiago to play against the best competition in the country. It will afford him the opportunity to see what he has to work on and where his game stands.
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