Santana A Full-Go

Santana has been clubbing some home runs

TAMPA, FL - It was a disappointing season for Ravel Santana a year ago. Once one of the supremely talented prospects in the farm system, a broken ankle injury derailed his progress in 2012 and he never looked the same. However, working behind the scenes in Extended Spring Training, he's getting oh-so close to being back to his normal self.

The recovery is coming along well, and Santana feels there are no longer any physical limitations with his ankle.

"Right now I feel 100 percent," Santana said through the help of a translator. "I've worked out a lot to get my strength back so I feel really good."

It's been a long journey for Santana but he reassured that he has made a full recovery.

"I feel a lot better," Santana explained. "In Staten Island I would have to take a couple of days off because my ankle would bother me at times, but when I go out on the field now nothing bothers me. I've come back with the same power I had before the injury."

It's not all talk either. Gulf Coast League Yankees hitting coach Drew Henson shares Santana's enthusiasm because he has seen it first-hand on the field.

"He's had a really good Spring Training," Henson stated. "He's had six home runs and has been one of our leading hitters. Santana's a strong kid that's making adjustments at the plate and continues to get better. He's out on the field almost everyday with a regular workload and has been full-go all spring."

After an injury that nearly destroyed his ankle, Santana is anxious to continue making adjustments to his game.

"My outfield [defense] is pretty good so I've been mainly concentrating on my hitting," he revealed.

On the hitting side Santana did have his bouts of swinging wildly a year ago. Henson discussed Santana's plate discipline and overall plate recognition this year.

"His plate discipline," Henson said, "well he continues to drop more walks, and continues to work on his approach and from what I can tell, it looks like he's becoming more and more comfortable with what he's trying to do as far as his plate game goes."

Staten Island manager Justin Pope believes Santana is making a swift recovery and will continue to make progress.

"Santana looks fine," Pope assured. "We've got a great medical staff who has done a great job at keeping him on the field. He had to continue to do his exercises everyday before he comes out onto the field, which I think will help him do better and keep him on the field. If he doesn't I think it could hurt him."

Before the injury both sides of the game were easy for Santana. He's got the power and he's got the arm, but with an on-base percentage of .304 in his 2012 season in Staten Island it is clear he's still learning.

"I think at times he tries to do too much," Pope said. "He gets big at the plate, but those times he stays within himself and is short-he's a good hitter. I think everyone has a problem with that laying off of the outside breaking pitches.

"Santana's young, he's learning, and when he trusts himself that he can hit the ball out of the ballpark to right center, right field, he'll start hammering pitches much better than he is. It's just a matter of trusting that he can cover the outside of the plate."

Santana continues to develop as a player and from a year ago to today it is quite clear that he has begun to turn a corner.

"Santana is a little more mature and has experience under his belt especially playing in Staten Island under the lights. There's a lot of good pitching in Staten Island. College pitchers that don't necessarily throw hard," Pope explained, "but they know how to pitch, mixing up speeds and throwing off-speed stuff.

"Down here in the Gulf Coast League you get a 2-0 and you may see a fastball, where as up there it may be an offspeed pitch. Santana is making adjustments and in the past couple of weeks he made a couple by being ahead of the count. A pitcher throws an off-speed pitch and he's right on it now."

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