Santana facing near-impossible odds – but very happy to do so

With the Super Bowl now behind us and the days until spring training now into single digits, fans are beginning to scrutinize the Dodgers 40-man roster (and the 22 non-roster invitees) a lot more than they did perhaps even a couple days ago. And while many of those 62 names are familiar to most Dodger fans, there are undoubtedly some that are not.

Among those lesser-knowns (for lack of a better term but meaning no disrespect whatsoever) is 21-year-old right-hander Dennis Santana, who was added to the Dodgers 40-man roster in November to prevent him from being snatched up in the Rule 5 Draft held during baseball’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida this past December.

“Just the fact to have the opportunity to be added [to the 40-man roster] is a blessing for me, which motivates me to continue working every day,” Santana told TrueBlueLA’s Eric Stephen in November.

The 6′-2″ / 160-pound hard-throwing right-hander, who will be 22 on April 12, was signed by the Dodgers in 2013 as an international free agent at the tender age of 16. Initially signed as a shortstop, Santana’s strong arm immediately caught the attention of his coaches and he was moved to the mound in 2014.

After two seasons with the DSL Dodgers, Santana was assigned to the Arizona Rookie League Dodgers and later to the Rookie League Ogden Raptors for the 2015 season. He pitched the entire 2016 season with the Low Single-A Great Lakes Loons, where he posted a less-than-stellar 5-9 record but a very impressive 3.07 ERA – enough to earn him a promotion to the Advanced Single-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes to begin the 2017 season.

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 – good enough to earn a promotion to Double-A Tulsa after only 14 starts..
(Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

After 17 games with the Quakes (14 starts), Santana was again promoted, this time to the Dodgers Double-A affiliate Tulsa Drillers. Between High-A and Double-A, Santana finished the 2017 season with a combined 8-7 record and 4.11 record; not over-the-top outstanding, but certainly worthy of the Dodgers protecting him from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.

“[I pitched] without fear of making a mistake, and what resulted in 2017 was from the continuous hard work since the end of 2016 in the off season,” Santana said. “Then to work in spring training in minor league camp with people from the Dodgers like Kremlin Martinez, Bobby CuellarRoberto GironKip WellsJoel Peralta and my teammate, my brother (Dodgers non-roster invitee) Daniel [Corcino].”

Santana credits his father Jose (@BIGDADDYOUU on Twitter) and his agent, former major leaguer Andy Mota, for his success, and for arranging for him to play winter ball in the DR this past off-season. He followed this up with extensive off-season training at Bommarito Performance Systems in Florida.

Although Santana is facing a nearly impossible uphill battle to win a spot on the Dodgers Opening Day 25-man roster you can count on one thing: you’ll have an extremely difficult trying to convince him that he will not.

Godspeed to you, amigo!


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