ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Diamondbacks prospect Deyvison De Los Santos showing improvement after MLB chance

May 4, 2024, 7:07 PM

Deyvison De Los Santos...

Deyvison De Los Santos #70 of the Cleveland Guardians runs to third base during the Spring Training Game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Goodyear Ballpark on March 11, 2024 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

(Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Deyvison De Los Santos returned to the Arizona Diamondbacks with his head up after a unique opportunity to fasttrack to the major leagues did not work out.

The Cleveland Guardians took a chance on the 20-year-old power-hitting prospect in the Rule 5 Draft, but after De Los Santos failed to crack the Opening Day roster, he was redirected back to Arizona. The D-backs assigned him to Double-A Amarillo, where he finished the 2023 season.

His response: De Los Santos had one of the hottests starts in the minor leagues, winning the Texas League Player of the Month after leading the league with 32 hits, seven home runs and 58 total bases in April (1.112 OPS).

“I know from experience, when guys go with an opportunity to make a major league team and they come back, sometimes they get off to a little bit rougher start because their expectations of making that team and disappointment of not doing it,” Amarillo manager Tim Bogar told Arizona Sports.

“I think it was a great experience for him, I think he learned what it was going to take for him to succeed at the higher level. He’s put his mind to that. So I give him all the credit in the world he came back and was willing to do the work.”

Last Sunday, he drove in all six Sod Poodles runs in a extra-inning win when he recorded his second career multi-homer game.

De Los Santos — who signed with the D-backs at 16 years old from the Dominican Republic in 2019 — said the experience with Cleveland taught him a lot about maturity and routines. Five-time All-Star Jose Ramirez took a mentorship role with De Los Santos, according to Guardians reporter Zack Meisel of The Athletic.

“I see it just like another challenge and will just continue to work hard,” De Los Santos told Arizona Sports via Spanish interpreter Alex Arpiza. “Waking up with a purpose and being able to learn from any possible mistake that might have been done in the previous game.”

Arizona farm director Shaun Larkin, who was only on the job for weeks during the Rule 5 Draft, said the club kept an eye on De Los Santos’ progress with Cleveland.

“I saw him the first day, he was really excited to be back with the organization, a lot of familiar faces, this is where he grew up,” Larkin told Arizona Sports.

What is working for De Los Santos and where does he need to improve?

De Los Santos has crushed Double-A pitching from the second half of last season on. He was added to the development list to take him off the field after a slow start last year, but after July 14 he slashed .322/.340/.596.

With all the power he possesses (20-plus home runs in 2022 and 2023), the organization has been looking for consistent, mature at-bats where he is not trying to do too much.

In April, Bogar saw someone with more of a “major league approach.”

“His at-bats have been very quality every time he goes up there,” Bogar said. “Early in counts sometimes he gets a little bit big trying to drive the ball. But as the at-bat goes on, he settles in and does a really good job of sticking to his approach.”

By bigger swing, Bogar referred to De Los Santos trying to hit the ball further than he needs to, but when under control he has shown his manager the ability to work all fields.

Larkin said “don’t force it” is a common message for younger players who can drive a ball 450 feet but try to on every pitch. De Los Santos’ walk-to-strikeout ratio remains one-sided with seven walks and 25 strikeouts to start the year, which is a slight improvement improvement from the past two seasons.

“He’s matured as a hitter, that has been a big part for him, just being more well-rounded, conducting professional at-bats,” Larkin said. “In the past, you run into that problem of trying to do too much, too soon, too often. I think this year, he really started to settle in learning how to conduct professional at-bats night after night, pitch-to-pitch. And he’s still working through that.”

When it comes to being a more well-rounded player in an organization that covets defense and baserunning, De Los Santos has some work to do.

The Diamondbacks plan to keep him at first base long term after he previously played third base and spent time in the outfield with Cleveland.

De Los Santos said he is working on getting into better position pre-pitch and getting his routine down.

“It’s not necessarily his hands or his feet or any one in particular thing. It’s more the whole package,” Larkin said.

“How many reps can he get with different throw types coming across the infield, different balls coming off the bat, situational awareness on where to be on cuts and relays? The more experience on a nightly basis you have at one position, sometimes it’s more beneficial than playing a different position and not getting some of these reps.”

What will it take for De Los Santos to move up to Triple-A Reno?

“Making sure we’re sustainable,” Larkin answered. “We can’t just get wrapped up in the offensive numbers when we value as an organization, especially at the major league level, the complete player. So that will be his development path. When that starts to all come together a little bit more bullet proof, we’ll start talking about when he moves up.”

Diamondbacks early minor league standouts

Asked which other minor leaguers in the lower levels have jumped out this season, Larkin’s first name was 18-year-old infielder Cristofer Torin, who has a .954 OPS in Single-A Visalia.

“You got Torin down in Visalia, who’s off to a really good start. He’s one of our younger middle infield prospects, who was really young for the level last year. He’s had a great first month on both sides of the ball, which has been really great to see,” Larkin said.

“We are really encouraged about Druw Jones after a really slow start, he’s starting to pick it up the past few series. The work has been great and he’s starting to really get it going from where he started. I think on the mound, Yilber Diaz has been electric. Some of the numbers can be confusing, but the stuff has been fantastic. He started developing a slider that he’s really gravitated towards.”

Jones endured a tough first couple weeks but had a six-game hitting streak entering Saturday with a 1.050 OPS in the last 10 games.

Diaz has 42 strikeouts in 25 innings over five starts for Amarillo, most recently throwing seven shutout innings with 11 punch outs on Thursday.

Jordan Lawlar injury update

Lawlar had a five-week postoperative follow-up this past week, which Larkin said went great. Lawlar is on the 60-day injured list (minor leagues) after suffering a ruptured UCL in his thumb.

“He’s cleared to complete one week of strengthening and that will be followed by initiation of baseball progression,” Larkin said. “Then he’ll have a follow-up in two weeks to assess the response to that baseball activity. … All things are good, and we’re in a good place.”

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