Domingo Santana worth picking up

What newest Astro can and cannot do; his value in 2014 and beyond

Updated: July 1, 2014, 12:01 PM ET
By Christopher Crawford | ESPN Insider

Houston Astros fans haven't had much to cheer about over the past few seasons, finishing with the worst record in baseball in each of the past three years.

[+] EnlargeDomingo Santana
Mark Cunningham/Getty ImagesDomingo Santana is the latest young hitter to be called up by the Houston Astros.

The Astros haven't exactly set the world on fire in 2014, either, but they have shown marked improvement over last season, and they've gotten to see flashes of brilliance from rookies George Springer and (to a lesser extent) Jon Singleton over the past two months.

And while Domingo Santana hasn't received the buildup of Springer and Singleton, he's been among the best hitters in the Pacific Coast league in 2014, and Houston has reward that success with a promotion to the big league roster, where he should get regular playing time in the corner outfield positions ahead of the struggling Alex Presley and L.J. Hoes.

Here's a look at what Santana -- who I wrote about in-depth earlier this season -- can and can't do at the big league level, and why he's a quality pickup in both single-season and keeper formats.

What he can do

Santana's calling card is his power; as he uses all of his 6-foot-5, 225-pound frame to create tremendous leverage, and with strong hip acceleration along with plus bat speed, he's capable of hitting tape-measure shots to every part of the field. While the hit tool is no more than average, he does have above-average hand-eye coordination, and he's no longer seen as a "hacker," but as a hitter who works counts into his favor and will draw his fair share of walks, as seen in his 40 this season in Oklahoma City.

"He's a much more complete hitter than he gets credit for," an AL West scout said. "The Astros deserve a lot of credit for what they've done with his development; when I saw him when he was property of the Phillies, he was so raw that it was difficult seeing him being more than a lifelong minor leaguer, but now I see a guy who can be a regular, and I think he's capable of handling at-bats in the show right now."

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