Lisandro Santos was one of the top relief arms in the organization last year, but was eligible for minor league free agency this winter and chose to sign with the New York Yankees. The 24-year-old lefty pitcher was dominant in relief at Rome, but struggled with his control at Double-A.
Preseason report card
Santos came into this season as a pure relief prospect with a high octane fastball but not much else to speak of in his arsenal. He had decent numbers at the lower levels with a 3.75 ERA last season, but his control was abysmal and he was a fringe arm at best.
What we saw in 2022
Santos was downright absurd for Rome to start the season, with 25 strikeouts and no runs allowed in his first 12 innings pitched. The Braves sensed they could chase a breakout and started stretching Santos out, which met with mixed results. Across his next five relief appearances he continued his stellar strikeout tendencies with 28 more in 13 1⁄3 innings, but the walks and home runs began to eat away at his numbers. Still, the Braves decided to toy with Santos as a starter, but that experiment ended up being very short-lived. Across three starts, Santos did have a 2.77 ERA, but his peripherals dipped too much, and after 13 strikeouts to nine walks in 13 innings, the Braves pulled the plug. Santos had just a few more shorter appearances before being moved up to Double-A. There his velocity and spin could not overcome his poor command and lack of a go-to secondary pitch, and his results were mediocre at best. Santos had 21 strikeouts in 18 1⁄3 innings while giving up a 5.89 ERA and walking 11 batters.
Santos is a fun arm to watch on the field, but the Braves were willing to let him walk for nothing and that should tell you the (lack of) faith they had in him long-term. Relief arms don’t hold a ton of value and for a 24-year-old who hasn’t shown any meaningful command development there isn’t much of a window for success. Santos would have been nice to retain, but he will now have a shot in New York’s system to hopefully develop more than he could in Atlanta.