Scouting Yankees Prospect #19: Ravel Santana

Santana still has a sky-high ceiling

The New York Yankees signed outfielder Ravel Santana in November of 2008 out of the Dominican Republic. One of the more physically gifted athletes in the entire organization at one point, he has taken some time recovering from a gruesome ankle injury that ended his 2011 season.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Ravel Santana
Position: Outfield
DOB: May 1, 1992
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 175
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

He hit just .212 for the Staten Island Yankees in 2012 with a modest three home runs in 60 games. As if getting back to speed on his ankle was enough of an obstacle, the young Dominican native also battled issues with his eyesight all season long.

"Terrible start but he's doing all right now," Yankees senior vice president of player development and scouting Mark Newman said. "He's coming back from a serious injury and we had to adjust his contacts and glasses when he got to Staten Island, but I think he's doing fine."

Internally the Yankees are rather pleased with how Santana has dealt with his health issues over the past calendar year but it's tough for the critics to share the same level of enthusiasm after seeing him hit a combined .310 with 19 home runs the previous two short-seasons.

Recovering from such a bad ankle injury, the same kind that took David Adams two years to return from, was in itself more than enough for anyone to handle. Throw in the fact that Santana also played night games for the first time, rode buses on long road trips for the first time, and all of the ancillary things that come from playing in A-ball for the first time, Santana had a lot on his plate.

"Coming up here, it's getting used to the lights, getting used to crowds, getting used to a big city," Staten Island manager Justin Pope said. "Most of these guys, the only time they fly is from the Dominican to Tampa, and they have Yankee personnel that fly with them. No bus trips in those leagues. You sleep in your same bed every night. So it's a lot to get used to.

"I'm not making that excuse for him, but for a young kid, who doesn't speak English, it's not Tampa. Tampa you're at the field all day basically. It's a little easier in Tampa."

While there are indeed cultural and professional adjustments needed to be made, the uncertain nature surrounding his eye sight made things that much worse.

"He ended up getting contacts first," Pope said. "I don't wear contacts or glasses so I don't know what that feeling is like, but I guess when he first got his contacts he couldn't keep them in for an extended period of time.

"So we tried to have a plan for him where he would wear them for batting practice, take them out after batting practice and let his eyes rest, and then put them back in for the game. I guess they weren't helping though so then we got him glasses but then something happened and he went back to the contacts."

The contacts and glasses were meant to help him see better a night. But more than the compromised eye sight was the overriding fact that Santana never really got an opportunity to feel like himself in 2012.

"It was his first full season back from the ankle injury which, I didn't see the injury when it happened but I heard it was really gruesome and really, really severe," Pope added. "That type of injury I understand a lot of people don't come back from and here he is in his first season back basically playing every single day.

"We knew it would bother him and that it was a big-time adjustment for him, playing through that pain or uncomfortable feeling. I'm sure he never really got comfortable in the batter's box or in the outfield with his running and stuff.

"To his credit he worked really hard. I know it was only short-season in Staten Island but he did play in all of Extended [Spring Training] so in essence he really did get a full season in of ABs and playing every single day.

"Especially towards the end of the season he made huge strides, huge adjustments. I think he did a good job of understanding what his body is now. He may not get back to what he was before his injury, but he still has the potential to be an unbelievable player," he concluded.

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2012 Staten Island .216 218 7 3 19 22 3 25 68 .304 .289
2011 GCL Yankees .296 162 11 9 29 43 10 17 40 .361 .568
2010 DSL Yankees2 .322 199 10 10 38 46 22 35 38 .440 .533
2009 DSL Yankees2 .239 138 6 5 25 27 7 22 35 .361 .391
2009 DSL Yankees1 .207 29 2 0 3 4 1 4 8 .324 .345


Batting and Power. Prior to the injury Santana had arguably the best bat speed in the entire farm system and he used the entire field when hitting, and had plus power to all of those fields. When he was struggling in his return from the injury, however, he pressed too hard at the plate, tried to hit home runs, and became very pull-happy for the first time in his career and that left him susceptible to outside breaking pitches, an issue he had not shown in his three years prior. When he's going right he is a very patient hitter, has a short and compact stroke with quick-twitch bat speed, and is a very good hitter with great power.

Base Running and Speed. Prior to the ankle injury Santana had plus speed and an aggressive nature in the running game that made him an elite runner. Since the ankle injury, however, he has been extremely cautious in the running game for obvious reasons and his speed is more of the average variety for now.

Defense. In true snowball fashion, Santana, once an elite defensive outfielder, began to play the game more unsure of himself. He didn't get great jumps on balls last season and outside of his plus-plus arm strength, the rest of his defensive game was average.

Projection. How Santana eventually develops will ultimately be decided on how far his ankle strength and flexibility come back, as well as correcting his issues seeing at night. Even if the ankle no longer allows him to be the plus runner he once was and knocks him down to just average in the running game and range-wise, he still has the plus power potential and innate hitting ability to be a great run producer in due time, but he'll obviously need to put his issues seeing the spin of the ball at night behind him. The ceiling is still quite vast. In fact, he still has future big league All Star type talent on both sides of the ball. What has happened though is he went from being a good bet to reaching his ceiling to now having quite a few question marks and most of them are health related.

ETA. N/A. Where the slower recovery time from the ankle injury has also affected him is in his current minor league trajectory. Once thought of being a potentially quick mover through the minors, that tract is on hold for now. If the ankle and night vision issues are behind him, he'll move fast and begin the 2013 season in Charleston. If they're not, however, he will probably be back in Staten Island to begin the year.

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