After an extraordinary summer in the Dominican Summer League last year, 18-year old Ravel Santana,…
Santana Learning To Control Aggression
Santana started to get the attention of many with his aggressiveness at the plate, his speed, a plus-arm and the overall natural ability he possesses to play the game.
As this year's Gulf Coast League season is halfway completed, Santana has been slotted in centerfield while finding time in the leadoff spot but usually sitting in the 6-9 batting order area.
Santana, who Mark Newman, the Yankees Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations, told PinstripesPlus in a recent interview that he really likes the tools that Santana possesses, has shown signs of the player that many believe he can be.
Currently batting only .253 with 30 hits in Santana's 28 games played, the right-handed hitter has connected for eight home runs, displaying the power he also possesses. With the average not as high as he would like, Santana believes he is having a productive and educational season.
"I feel good," Santana said through a translator. "I'm just trying to focus on my fundamentals and listen to everything my coaches and instructors tell me what to do to improve."
With eight home runs coming his way through 38 games played for Santana, people don't consider him a power hitter, but combined in the two years he played in the DSL, he combined for a total of 15 home runs.
Santana also doesn't consider himself a power hitter, but knows what it takes to hit one out of the ballpark.
"I don't believe I am a power guy, I just think I have been putting some good swings on the ball," Santana said. "
"I try to think every year the total will go up but don't aim for it to happen. Two seasons ago I had five, last season I had 10, so it fluctuates but it all comes down to putting a good swing on the ball."
Along with the home runs being a strong point in Santana's game so far in the GCL, his defensive skills should not be forgotten. After playing right field due to an injury last season, Santana is back in centerfield where he feels comfortable playing.
"Last couple of seasons I played right field because I hurt myself a little bit and I was a little slow, but now that I am playing center my legs are fully under me and stronger and I feel real comfortable out there," said Santana.
Santana has a gun for an arm in the outfield, and is not afraid to show it off. Watching some games, he is extremely quick getting to fly balls and base hits and has used his arm extremely effectively to get the ball back in the infield. Although he only has one assist in 2011, he has completed 60 out of 63 putouts and has saved many hits from being triples to doubles and doubles to singles.
As he carries legs that help propel him to fly balls, one would think that he would be a player who steals a lot of bases when he reaches safely. So far this season, he only has four stolen bases but he knows the reason why that total has been low.
"So far every time I get on base the situation hasn't presented itself as a stolen base opportunity, so they have held me off on stealing," Santana said when asked on the low stolen base numbers.
As the 19-year old kid gets his feet wet in the Yankees organization and in professional baseball, GCL hitting coach, Edwar Gonzalez, has seen great strides in the young kid and couldn't be more excited to see him develop.
"I like his aggressiveness, he's aggressive and powerful," Gonzalez said. "Right now we're trying to work on controlling his aggression because sometimes he over-swings and wants to pull the ball a little too much.
"He's a young hitter and that's what they do, and they learn to be aggressive and passive. He has all the tools there is and I like him a lot, he's going to be a great player for sure."
When watching Santana, he's one of those players that you can just tell carries tools that other players lack. He has great bat speed, an arm, speed, and a concentration to the game that is noticed. With the ability there, Santana does lack one aspect of the game, and that is reading the offspeed pitches.
Many Latin players see fastball pitchers in their native country leagues, and when coming to America, they have to adjust to seeing not only fastballs, but breaking and offspeed pitches. Santana knows he has to work on that part of his game, and when he does, he believes he'll see the bright light ahead.
"I want to be able to recognize breaking pitches better," Santana said. "If I can start to recognize those better, I feel like it's going to really make me excel and propel me in the right direction."
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