SF Giants top prospects: No. 19 — RHP Gregory Santos
Highest Level: Class-A (Augusta)
Acquired: Trade (2017)
Future-Value Grade: 40
Gregory Santos was a lottery ticket attached to Shaun Anderson when the Giants acquired him from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Eduardo Nunez at the trade deadline in 2017. Santos pretty quickly began to take steps forward, but remains a longshot to reach his potential.
The 20-year-old has a mid-90s sinker and cutter that he pairs with a slider that also flashes plus. He began throwing a changeup for strikes last season and while it doesn’t project as more than an average pitch, it doesn’t need to be much more than that for him to succeed.
Big-time velocity helped Santos earn a $275,000 signing bonus as an international free agent. A lack of control and secondary pitch limited his market from getting much bigger. With the Red Sox affiliate in the Dominican Summer League, both things were playing out. He wasn’t giving up hard contact and racked up a decent amount of strikeouts, but a substantial amount of walks were along for the ride as well.
As soon as he moved to the Giants organization things shifted. All of a sudden, Santos was working deeper into games and walking far fewer.
Then the injury bug hit.
Both Santos’ 2018 and 2019 seasons were hampered by injuries and ultimately prevented him from rocketing up the team’s rankings like he looked capable.
At his best, Santos has shown the potential to have two-plus pitches alongside a passable changeup. Even if his control only reaches a 40-grade (50 is considered league-average), his stuff is nasty enough to be a mid-rotation starter.
When he’s been healthy, Santos’ fastball hasn’t quite garnered the strikeout rate you would expect, which suggests there may be some characteristics that play down a bit. Still, if he’s healthy and can find enough control, there’s a lot to play with.
There are too many red-flags to get heavily invested in Santos’ status. With that said, his age is important to remember. He’s nearly five months younger than Nick Swiney (the Giants compensatory round B selection in the 2020 draft) so the Giants have no rush to push his arm.
Assuming Santos stays in decent shape, the break may be good for Santos to get rested up before an opportunity to breakout in 2021.