Santana Getting Used To It

Santana is hitting .267 since July 1st

STATEN ISLAND, NY – There were high expectations placed on outfielder Ravel Santana as he was named one of the Yankees' top prospects entering the 2012 campaign. While some Yankees fans have languished over his hapless performance to start the year, fret not because Santana is finally getting used to it.

"I had a rough first couple weeks, but I stayed getting after it and learned to play under the lights and at night," Santana said through a translator. "Thankfully to God I just improved a little bit."

It took Santana 26 games to boost his average up to the .200 mark, and through 43 games it's at .247. In the previous year with Gulf Coast, Santana finished with a .296 batting average through 41 games, but his season ended prematurely due to a broken ankle.

Said broken ankle looks healthy judging by the range he is showing in the outfield. The Yankees have taken some precautions with him, though, especially on the base paths where he hasn't recorded a stole base yet and was caught only once.

"I've been working hard during BP shagging, working on getting good reads to fly balls," Santana said about improving his health and defense.

Hitting coach Ty Hawkins discussed the steps he is taking with Santana to get his offense back to full strength once again.

"Right now he's still in the process of cleaning up some stuff, some issues with directions and stuff. That's been going pretty good so far. Once you get that going consistent, then you can kind of move on to a different area," Hawkins said.

"But he's adjusted well. It's been a while that he's been good that way. It's just a matter of getting into a good position to hit, being on time more consistently, and we're still working on that."

A few numbers present themselves in the stat line for Santana. He totaled nine home runs last year, but has only two this year. His slugging also dropped from .568 to his current .318 percentage.

On an optimistic note, there's a pop coming from Santana's bat that was blatantly missing early in the season. He's hitting the baseball with more authority, although his 50 strikeouts are rather high.

It's important to point out that rookie ball is a stark contrast from low-A. The Gulf Coast games are typically played around noon and feature only a handful of spectators, not the few thousand Staten Island averages.

Manager Justin Pope also sympathizes with Santana for reasons that go beyond the ballpark realms.

"Coming up here, it's getting used to the lights, getting used to crowds, getting used to a big city," Pope said about the differences between the leagues, "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."

Questions have arisen concerning Santana's vision, another possibility that could be affected his hitting. He said there was no problem with his eyes, and he found out he doesn't need glasses.

Even though there's only three weeks left in the season, Santana is positive about his development over the better portion of the year.

"I was obviously upset with how I started out, but I knew I needed to stick within my approach. And I was able to weather the storm," he said.

Pope tries to alleviate the pressure on Santana by offering him his best advice.

"It's just getting used to it, trusting himself, not trying to do too much at the plate, because at the plate sometimes he gets real big," Pope said. "He's just got to try to tone the swing sometimes. Just being under control really."

Santana displays a complete skill set that is going to take time to fully blossom. Pope understands that even with all the hype, these players are still maturing.

"I don't know if he's fallen short of expectations. He's getting better. He started off with such a rough start. He's young," Pope answered.

"All the young Latin guys, they had to get used to some of the things, like the environment, and night games, and things like that. So I think he's getting used to it."

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