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Cubs Prospect Perspective: Tyler Santana

He’s a pitcher who could rise rapidly through the system.

Casey McDonald/South Bend Cubs

Having an expectation to have an article per day on prospects, however long the off-season lasts, provides me leeway on which player to write on, and when. On occasion, I’m in the process of doing something else entirely, and an article I hadn’t even contemplated becomes essential, and virtually completely written. Late Saturday night, that became the case for Tyler Santana, when a trade that didn’t involve him comes to fruition. Here is my look at fringe prospects, mid-November trades, and Santana.

The Tampa Bay Rays are going to make a few trades like they did Saturday. Trying to create space for room to add some of their better prospects to the 40-man roster in advance of the November 19 deadline, the Rays traded Mike Brosseau to the Brewers for right-handed reliever Evan Reifert. Reifert was a draft-eligible free agent after the 2020 draft, similar to the Cubs’ Ben Leeper. Reifert pitched rather well in the Brewers Low-A and Advanced-A levels in 2021, showing quite a few walks and strikeouts, both. Yeah, shocking, I know.

Much of my prospect assessment defaults to Fangraphs, who shows about all their homework. Any prospect assessed a 35+ or better is listed, and adds to the assessed pipeline value. That said, every team has valued prospects below the 35+ level. I delineate two steps further. The elite of the unranked elite in the pipeline (any pipeline) are guys that I’d consider 35s. If I had really good knowledge of the Phillies or Royals pipelines, they’d probably have six to ten “35” types. Maybe more.

A step below those are the “30-plus” types. Often recently acquired, they haven’t become entirely exposed, yet. They may or may not reach MLB, but are players teams would happily gobble up if released, 190 player limits or not. Reifert is probably, or was, probably, what I would consider a 30+ in the Brewers pipeline. Teams running their organizations well should have 20 or more of these types.

If the Cubs were to have traded for Brosseau, what would have been a similar return to Reifert? As Reifert closed in Advanced-A Wisconsin (Appleton, if you like regions instead of entire states), I looked first at South Bend to find a similar arm. Burl Carraway spent most of the season in South Bend, but Reifert has much less prospect prestige than Carraway. Eduarniel Nunes is with South Bend in the 30+/35 range, but his steady 98/99 makes him an unsteady comp for Reifert. After a fashion, I settled on Santana.

Tyler Santana

Right-handed pitcher. Born May 13, 1998. Miami, Florida.
Signed by the Cubs as a post-draft free agent in 2021 out of Jacksonville University

Santana started 50 games on the bump for the JU Dolphins, and was their Friday guy on the games I found on You Tube. The Atlantic Sun is one of fifteen conferences that’s quite a bit better at baseball than you might think if you’re basing your conference assessments on basketball and football relevance. Santana’s draft year ERA was 4.66, which looks a bit unappetizing. However, hits were lower than innings pitched, which were lower than strikeouts. Walks weren’t terribly problematic. If nothing else, Santana is a nice guy to have if he could toss innings in Mesa in 2022 as a starting pitcher to allow the Cubs a second or third team in the Arizona Complex League.

He seems better than that.

It took two innings in Mesa for Santana to get promoted from the ACL. In a two-inning save, he fanned three hitters, and skipped a level to go to South Bend. He polished off the season with eight appearances in High-A, including one start. Santana’s ERA in South Bend was 1.50, with a few more walks than you might prefer, but he’s about a match to Reifert. Santana won’t be Rule 5 Draft-eligible until 2024, and has scads of time to develop.

I’d look for him in South Bend in early 2022, if healthy, whether as a starting pitcher or reliever. He seems a reasonable arm in that spot, and I look forward to seeing how he develops with a professional staff encouraging him on. If he doesn’t get traded. (But, you know me. I’ll follow him even if he is traded.)

Here is another look at Santana while he was pitching for Jacksonville University.

Courtesy Jacksonville University


Should the Cubs have aggressively pursued Mike Brosseau in trade?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    (24 votes)
  • 84%
    (133 votes)
157 votes total Vote Now


Does Tyler Santana seem a reasonable trade comp for Evan Reifert?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    A bit steep. (Santana seems better.)
    (55 votes)
  • 48%
    About right.
    (61 votes)
  • 8%
    A bit light. (Reifert seems better.)
    (11 votes)
127 votes total Vote Now