New York may not be a baseball hotbed on the level of Texas or Florida, but it nonetheless produces a steady stream of talent year in, year out. This year, the main attraction for scouts was righty hurler Alex Santos II, a Maryland commit who checks a lot of scouting boxes on the mound. Early in the process, Santos was a standout for his physicality and mechanics- he raised a lot of eyebrows in the 2019 showcases with his projectable 6’3” frame and clean delivery, and while he didn’t have a lights out breaking ball at that stage, the feel to spin was apparent as well.
In the spring, Santos looked to be trending up further- he spent his time off the field filling out his frame, and while the velocity hasn’t yet popped in response, it should give him a jump on his transition to the pro game and allow him to throw more innings in the early stages of his career. His changeup was also impressing scouts in their last look at him- the pitch is more refined than the typical prep change, and it makes it rather easy to project Santos as a potential starting pitcher at a high level.
Santos’ delivery presents no real red flags. He can rush it a bit at times, but he’s generally in sync and quick to the plate with a clean arm stroke. His lower half is employed well, and he shows an ability to create good velocity without an excess of effort. While he has a big fastball and imposing mound presence, he also shows advanced feel for pitching, liberally incorporating his offspeed offerings and tunneling his stuff well. The breaking ball, which is slidery in its shape, looks an awful lot like his fastball coming out of his hand, which allows it to create swings and misses without devastating bite. His changeup shows good movement, but perhaps more impressive is the arm speed he’s able to throw it with. The breaker and the change veer in opposite directions as they approach the plate, giving him a complete arsenal that should be effective against batters of either handedness.
Once Santos fell out of the top 50 picks, it became reasonable to wonder if he might honor his commitment to the University of Maryland, but the Astros were clearly enamored and likely offered him overslot money at 72 to make the jump to the pros. Santos was trending up pretty quickly before baseball was shut down, and had a real chance to pitch his way into the first round with a velo bump in his senior year, so James Click and company did well to reel him in with what was essentially a high third round selection. A young arm potential for three above average pitches, he shows mid-rotation upside and should be ready for a an aggressive assignment when he gets to pro ball, potentially straight to full season ball. He won’t shoot up the ladder, as there’s still refinement necessary with his offspeed stuff, and potential to add velocity, but his advanced pitchability should give him the ability to compete at the low levels of the minors in short order.
With no first or second round pick, this draft wasn’t a massive opportunity for the Astros to add talent as it was for other clubs, but they were nonetheless able to make the most of the situation. Santos in particular is a fine headliner for any class- in my eyes he’s more promising than a couple of first round picks- and should be on the edge of the organizational top 10 in upcoming rankings updates. The Astros’ farm is pretty well stocked with young arms, but in terms of upside potential very few of them can go toe-to-toe with Santos. In my book, James Click’s first amateur acquisition as GM gets a passing grade- and this selection has me excited to see what is in store for the rest of his tenure.