Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hello Sergio Santos

This isn't going to be news to White Sox fans, but to the rest of the world, it certainly should be. Way back in 2002, the Sergio Santos story began as a minor league middle infielder with the Toronto Blue Jays. He had some success as a shortstop, once belting 20 home tuns as a 23 year old in AA. However by 2008 Santos was entering his 7th minor league season and he wasn't hitting at AAA for the Twins after being picked up on waivers.

Then one day he told the Twins relievers there that he could throw 95 off a mound. They laughed. 'Yeah sure, prove it,' they said. They gave him ten pitches to hit 95. On the 3rd, he hit 97. The Twins kept him at shortstop however, and chose not to try to resign him after the season.

In 2009, Santos signed on with the White Sox and made the transition to reliever. Dropping all the way back down to Low-A. From there he steam-rolled the minor leagues, making stops at High-A, AA, and AAA.

Now in 2010, he's made the big club out of spring training. An incredible feat in-and-of-itself, to say nothing of not having pitched professionally until a year ago.

I had the privilage of watching Santos pitch a couple nights ago in a game against the Twins, and wow. The right-handed Santos features three quality pitches, a 95-97 mph fastball with good life, a very sharp 88mph slider that can eat up even quality left-handed hitting, and a circle change that flashes plus.

The last thing the White Sox, a team with abundant pitching talent, needed was another hard-throwing, swing and miss reliever. But this is clearly a case of the rich getting richer. In three innings of work, Santos has struck out four, and allowed zero hits or walks. Eventually, Santos' lack of experience will likely show itself in the form of some bouts of wildness, but for now, the results have all been positive.

With a standout relief corps featuring Scott Linebrink, Matt Thornton, and Bobby Jenks, the White Sox will likely use Santos exclusively in the 7th inning. That group of four reliever will really help augment an already great starting pitching staff and ensure that the White Sox can shorten games, maximizing their limited offensive capabilities.

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