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Tony Santillan's Fearless Attack Leading to Dominance

May 21, 2024 - International League (IL)
Louisville Bats News Release

Tony Santillan has been one of the top closers in baseball thus far this season, as he is currently nine for nine in save opportunities, giving him the sole lead in that category in all of Minor League Baseball. Santillan emphasizes that he lives for those adrenaline-pumping moments on the mound.

"I'm a big competitor. I always seek the challenge, any challenge. I always want to be a part of that challenge," Santillan said. "I live for those moments, especially out on that mound, it's a good feeling. I have that kind of mentality where I can be put in a situation like that, and I just go after guys with no hesitation. I think that suits me perfectly."

Santillan has impressive numbers so far this year, posting a 2.57 ERA in 21.0 innings pitched spanning 21 outings. Opposing hitters are batting .167 against him, and he has a 12.9 strikeouts per nine innings ratio, striking out 33% of batters faced (30 of 91).

His manager, Pat Kelly, attributes Santillan's dominance to his fearless attack while out on the mound, as well as his ability to focus to keep his head in the game.

"He's ignored all the distractions," Kelly said. "With the spring he had, he feels like he should be in the big leagues and for whatever reason, he didn't make the club. I think he's done a great job since then of keeping the noise out of it and doing his job."

"The biggest things are the aggressiveness and the intensity," Kelly said. "He's not afraid of anybody. He'll throw his fastball to any hitter in the league and challenge him. I think he takes great pride in that, and that's what closers do. There's no scouting report, it's just 'Here's my best stuff, try and hit it, and I think my stuff is better than you.' Tony is a great example of that."

Santillan spent time on the injured list in both 2022 and 2023, so his goal coming into this season was simple: stay on the field.

"The ultimate goal this season was to come in healthy," Santillan said. "I knew that was going to be the key to my success, to be honest. Everything else was just about being myself and dominating. I knew if I came in healthy to begin the year, I would take care of business."

Opposing hitters have hit just .167 against Santillan this season across his 21 total innings pitched.Cam Anderson/Louisville Bats

Santillan does have some Major League experience, pitching in 66.1 innings and posting a 3.66 ERA with 78 strikeouts for the Cincinnati Reds from 2021-23. With this experience comes others around Santillan looking up to him, which he responds to with leading by example.

"I don't really say a whole lot. I'm to myself and pretty quiet, but for my whole career, I've always tried to lead by example. Obviously, if someone asks me a question or if I see someone that looks like he could use a little help, I'll give my two cents if they want to hear. For the most part though, I try to lead by example rather than say too much."

Santillan understands the importance of being able to adapt as a pitcher, which is something he has had to do a lot of in recent years with the introduction of the pitch clock.

"That's kind of the whole nature of the game. Whether it's with the pitch clock, having someone on base, pitching is all about adapting to the situation. The good ones adjust quicker than the rest, so it's just a matter of 'How quickly can I adapt to this?' [The pitch clock] isn't going anywhere, so you have to find ways to acclimate. The quicker you can do that, the better pitcher you will be."

Santillan has clearly adapted well to any situation so far this season, and if he continues his tremendous play with the game on the line, it bodes well for the Bats as they continue to battle in the standings.

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International League Stories from May 21, 2024

The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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