Dodgers prospect Dennis Santana moving closer to lifelong dream

Many players have an interesting story to share about how they came to play baseball. In fact, all of them have a story of some sort. While every story is valuable, the most interesting tend to be those of player from another country. Their stories of being discovered and moving to the United States are inspiring for athletes all over the world as they deliver a strong message in pursuing your dreams. Dennis Santana is not only a player from another country but his journey is all the more interesting in that he came to the United Stated to play a position he no longer plays.

Santana was born in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, a city of 190,000 residents located in the southeast corner of the island nation. San Pedro de Macoris has made a name for itself in the baseball world, having been home to some of the biggest names in the game’s history such as former players Pedro Guerrero and Sammy Sosa and current major leaguers Robinson Cano, Johnny Cueto, and Miguel Sanó.

San Pedro de Macoris is famed mostly for its development of position players. Growing up, Dennis was no exception to this trend. At just four years old, Dennis began his baseball career as a shortstop and second baseman. At such a young age, Dennis quickly learned the skills of playing good defense and batting, and became so proficient at both that he began catching the eyes of scouts at just 13, and in 2012 the Dodgers signed Santana as an international free agent shortstop when he was only 16 years old.

The following year, in 2013, Dennis played for the Dominican Summer League Dodgers where he hit just .198 in 172 at-bats. His stolen base numbers were not good either, sitting at four swiped bases while being caught seven times. The numbers did not lie. He was not cut out to play shortstop professionally. But the Dodgers were not willing to give up on the then 17-year-old who possessed an absolute cannon for an arm and the following season they decided to move Santana to pitcher, a move that the Dodgers had earlier on a catcher from Curaçao who would eventually become the Dodgers all-time saves leader – Kenley Jansen. And just like with Jansen, the move to pitcher was a huge success with Dennis, who pitched his way to a 1.05 ERA in his first season on the mound.

Santana began the 2017 season with the Dodgers Advanced Single-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, where he posted a 5-6 record and 3.57 ERA. He was promoted to the Double-A Tulsa Drillers on July 20 and is 1-0 with a 5.28 ERA through his first three starts. (Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

The following year detailed much of the same success for Dennis, who continued to impress off the mound. His arm was working for him but he still made sure to stay true to his roots as shortstop as he shared that he can now contribute “on the field as a pitcher or as a batter if my team needs me.”

While his numbers have always impressed, those are things that anyone can look up. And, while it would have been easy to write an article about how great a pitcher Dennis Santana is he actually possesses a skill far more important than numbers: personality.

Dennis, who is currently in Double A, has an attitude of a seasoned veteran. While he proved this by sharing his love for his team, the final question of the interview was the real indicator of the incredible person that he really is. The question was this: “If you could say anything to a kid back in the Dominican Republic who wants to play baseball like you, what would you say?” His answer was incredible.

“The sky’s the limit for you. Anything is possible when you set your mind and heart to it. So, keep dreaming. Continue to respect the game and your teammates and you will make it.”

Although only 21 years old, Dennis Santana sounds as though he is ready for the big leagues. His attitude and respect for the game are unparalleled for someone at his level and age. And, with the combination of his mental game and physical skills, the sky truly is the limit for the young pitcher.

 

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2 Responses to “Dodgers prospect Dennis Santana moving closer to lifelong dream”

  1. Bluenose Dodger says:

    Dennis has been moving along almost unnoticed. He is now listed as the No. 12 Dodger prospect by mlbpipeline.com.

    Control has been a bit of an issue with the Drillers so hopefully that will improve as the rest of the season plays out.

    • Jacob Rudner says:

      Dennis has in fact been quietly flying through both the prospect rankings and the minor league system. I don’t know if this is actually what is happening but I have noticed that when pitchers are moved from Rancho to Tulsa their walk numbers per game are much higher. I think this has to do with two things. First, batters in double A have a significantly better eye. Second, the humidity in Tulsa is much higher than Rancho thus it is harder to throw the ball. Thanks for reading!

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