This is a new feature on the site, mainly because we're still in the doldrums of prospect season and we want to get discussion going. We'll be going through the alphabet in October and November to pick one prospect a day before our top prospect coverage starts in December. There's no real rhyme or reason to who we'll talk about, and we're open to suggestions for some letters.
Frank De Los Santos has methodically risen through the system a level each year, from Princeton in 2007 up to Montgomery this year. 2011 was the first season he worked primarily as a reliever, but two things he's always been able to do is have success against lefties and get groundballs.
This season with the Biscuits, he held lefties to a .228 while posting a 25-to-3 strikeout-to-walk rate (compared to 23-20 vs. RHB) and a 2.54 GO/AO against them. Last season with Charlotte, it was a 35-8 K-BB rate and a 2.09 FIP vs. lefties. For his career, his 2011 GO/AO of 1.98 was his lowest mark.
He especially seemed to thrive as a reliever. In 19.1 innings as a starter, he allowed 12 earned runs with a 13-10 K-BB rate. In 59.1 innings as a reliever, he allowed 19 earned runs with a 35-13 K-BB. He held opponents to a .236 average out of the bullpen compared to .385 as a starter.
As a small (listed at 6-0/165) lefty who's vulnerable to right-handers, his path to the majors is a lefty specialist. It's a role the Rays may have an opening for in 2012 or 2013, as J.P. Howell is a non-tender candidate and Cesar Ramos was good but not great against lefties. De Los Santos figures to start next season with Durham's bullpen, but if Ramos is ineffective or suffers an injury, the Rays may come calling for De Los Santos if they want a lefty specialist.
Two other candidates for that role (not in 2012, most likely) are C.J. Riefenhauser and Adam Liberatore. Riefenhauser spent the year as a starter, and likely will continue that role in 2012, but he was death on lefties. I can't find his splits with Bowling Green but in 37 innings with Charlotte, lefties hit .147 against him, which is close to the BG number. Liberatore is pitching in the Arizona Fall League, but he too had success against LHBs during the season with Charlotte.
A - Chris Archer
B - Blake Snell
C - Robinson Chirinos
D - Frank De Los Santos