Heading into Spring Training, the Baltimore Orioles have an array of questions needing answered. One of the lesser weighted is what happens with Rule-5 pick Anthony Santander?
The Baltimore Orioles snatched the switch-hitting outfielder from the Cleveland Indians organization in the 2016 Rule-5 Draft. Anthony Santander, chosen to continue to strengthen the organization’s depth behind Adam Jones, is a native of Margarita, Venezuela.
In addition to being one of the 551 players from Venezuela to ever appear in a Major League game, Santander had received the 29th largest signing bonus of any international signing.
Before his acquisition by the Orioles, Santander progressed as far as High-A Lynchburg. In 2016, he appeared in 128 games there, slashing .290/.368/.494. Through 185 chances spread between left field, right field, and first base, he committed just three errors.
When asked about taking Santander in the Rule-5 Draft, Dan Duquette offered the following statement:
"He’s a decibel of Victor Martinez, and if you see him play he has a lot of Martinez’ mannerisms. He’s got a similar type stance. An excellent young hitter, he was the best offensive player in the Carolina League. He had 95 RBI’s, hit over 20 home runs and he’s just 22 years old. He’s the youngest player we were considering for the draft. But, we like his capability to hit in the big leagues and to hit from both sides of the plate with power.”"
Injury forces Santander to the DL
After having shoulder surgery in the offseason, Santander was eased into drills during Spring Training last season. Limited from batting from the right side, Santander also didn’t appear in the outfield during the entire exhibition season.
On March 16, he underwent a Magnetic Resonance Angiography after experiencing discomfort in his throwing elbow. It was at this point when the Orioles figured the best move was to put Santander on the 15-day disabled list to open the 2017 season.
Santander was expected to resume workouts after the MRA revealed minor inflammation. However, a right forearm strain kept him away longer.
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Placed on the 10-day DL on March 30, he eventually moved to the 60-day DL in July. Having received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his throwing elbow, he wouldn’t be ready to come off until after the All-Star break.
Ready to make his Major League debut
Santander began a rehab assignment in July last year, making one stop with High-A Frederick and appearing in 15 games for Double-A Bowie. Through 16 games total, Santander finished his rehab assignment hitting .382 (21-for-55), driving in 14 runs and hitting five homers.
Activated from the 60-day DL on August 16, Santander made his Major League debut two days later.
Last season, Santander appeared in 13 games, going 8-for-30 (.267) and driving in two runs. He started six games in right field and came on as a defensive replacement four times in left field and twice in right.
He only had 16 chances in the outfield but didn’t make an error in 59 innings.
Where do we go from here
Per the rules outlined by Major League Baseball on the Rule-5 Draft, “The receiving team must then keep the player on the Major League 25-man roster for the entirety of the next season, and the selected player must remain active (not on the disabled list) for a minimum of 90 days.”
In Santander’s case, he spent 46 days active last season. Therefore, he must remain active for 44 more days before the Rule-5 requirements are satisfied.
Sitting down with MASN’s Sara Perlman before Orioles Fanfest, Santander said his goals for the 2018 season are, “to be healthy.”
"“If I’m healthy, it will allow me to play hard and to contribute to the team and hopefully make the playoffs this year.”"
Santander has been training in his native country of Venezuela over the past few months. When asked about how his offseason has looked like, he said:
"“Working hard. I want to make the team out of spring training. I’m still in that status of Rule 5 that I still need to make the team, so I really want to do it. I want to be ready when that time comes and show what I can do.”"
Anthony Santander is going to be on the 25-man roster to start the season. He’s a player to honestly keep an eye on as the exhibition season gets underway. As mentioned yesterday, there’s plenty of outfield competition this spring. With right field a true uncertainty though, Santander could find himself competing for a start on Opening Day.