Antonio Santos is quickly showing how strong of a prospect he can be for the Rockies organization as the big righthander is putting up solid numbers early in the season while providing quality starts in the process.
Santos has been tenacious early in the year, pitching six innings or more while allowing just two runs or less in each of his three appearances. The offense has been missing in those starts however, as the Tourists have failed to score a single run in the 18 innings Santos has thrown in.
The Dominican native was signed by the Rockies in 2015 for a relative bargain of $50,000 due to his age. Santos developed later than most prospects in the Dominican and wasn’t signed until he was 18, but his 92 mph fastball was enough to impress the organization. Since then, Santos has touched 97 and regularly sits 94-95 in his starts. Pitching coach Ryan Kibler was high on Santos when I spoke to him early in the month saying, “Keep an eye on (Santos), because he’s going to be special.”
Through 18 innings Santos has struck out 14 batters and walked just two. His 2.50 ERA has been solid, and most of his peripherals have been good as well. The only negative that stands out, is his opponent's ability to make contact as opposing batters are hitting .279 against.
In contrast, another Tourist starter who is doing well against contact is 20-year-old Alejandro Requena. The righthander is holding batters to a mere .182 against and an impressive 0.73 ERA in his first two starts of the season. Requena is managing contact, but struggling to miss bats as he’s only striking out batters at a rate of 4.4 K/9. The Venezuelan did much better in this area last season while in Grand Junction, so watch for that number to expand as he gains more experience facing advanced hitters in the SAL.
Headlined by young phenom Riley Pint, Asheville boasts one of the youngest rotations in the league. After a pair of starts the 19-year-old is putting up solid, if not impressive numbers early in the season. The right-handed pitcher has just a 3.86 ERA through three starts, while holding hitters to a meager .250 average against. His velocity has been his biggest weapon, some reports have it sitting at 95-97, while others have him touching the triple digits range.
On the offensive side Colton Welker has been the rock in the lineup. The 19-year-old third baseman is batting a hefty .459/.524/.676 through 10 games. His 237 wRC+ is one of the best among teenagers in the SAL, sitting between the Dodger’s Carlos Rincon and Toronto’s Bo Bichette.
Welker was chosen in the fourth round in last year’s draft out of Parkland, FL. Welker was solid in Short-season Grand Junction last year posting a .329 average and he’s taken his game up a notch this season supplanting Tyler Nevin as the everyday starter at third base.
Asheville is struggling at home this season, where they’ve gone just 2-5, overall the team is somewhere in the middle with an overall record of 6-8. The offense has been the anchor for this team as they sit in the bottom third of the league in runs scored. Overall the team is one of the youngest in the SAL and is expected to improve as they gain more seasoning throughout the year.
Asheville’s Top Hitters and Pitchers
Experience the epic walkoff home run from Asheville’s home opener. Fast forward to 1:20 if you want to skip ahead to the good stuff.