In part four of our Next Level series, where we take a look at some of the Brewers young talent who have exhausted their “prospect status” but look to be key contributors at the big league level this season, we head to the outfield where 23-year-old Domingo Santana hopes to earn a spot in Milwaukee’s everyday lineup.
Acquired from Houston last July as part of a trade that sent outfielder Carlos Gomez and pitcher Mike Fiers to the Astros, Santana appeared in 38 games for Milwaukee, hitting .231 with six home runs.
Originally signed by the Phillies out of the Dominican Republic in 2009, Santana debuted stateside with Philadelphia’s GCL club that same season, hitting .288 with six home runs in 37 games. He advanced to Class-A Lakewood by 2011 before being traded to Houston as part of an August trade that sent outfielder Hunter Pence to the Phillies.
Upon joining the Astros, Santana moved a level at a time, finishing out 2011 at Low-A Lexington, spending 2012 at High-A Lancaster and moving up to Double-A Corpus Christi in 2013. He advanced to Triple-A Oklahoma City in 2014 and hit .296 with 27 doubles and 16 home runs, earning a call to the big leagues with Houston.
Santana made his major league debut with the Astros on July 1st, 2014 but struggled, going 0-for-17 in six games before returning to Triple-A. He spent most of 2015 back at Triple-A before a call-up in June. Santana fared better in his second big league stint, hitting .256 with a pair of home runs. After being traded to Milwaukee, Santana was sent to Triple-A Colorado Springs where he hit .380 in 20 games, earning a call to Milwaukee.
At 6’5″, Santana displays huge raw power that plays to all fields. As with many power hitters, strikeouts have been an issue for Santana in the past, but he’s shown that he can hit at the minor league level, posting a career .282 batting average.
Santana saw time in center field last season with Milwaukee but he’s not the long-term answer there. With a strong arm, Santana can play either outfield spot and if he shows he can handle big league pitching he’s going to help further create a logjam in the corners for Milwaukee.
With Ryan Braun entrenched in right field and Khris Davis in left, Santana could continue to work in center until a true centerfielder emerges, but at some point the Brewers will need to make a move to open up a more permanent spot for the young slugger.