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Chasing The Dream: The Adalberto Santos Story and Interview

Adalberto Santos: Quick Stats

santosbioTeam: Pittsburgh Pirates

Twitter: @SantosSwag

Height: 5′ 11″, Weight: 185 lb. Born: September 28, 1987 in Bronx, New York

Drafted:  Pittsburgh Pirates  in the 22nd round of the 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft

Favorite Player: Alex Rodriguez / Derek Jeter

 

Chasing The Dream: The Adalberto Santos Story

Most players who make it to the professional ranks as a baseball player are fortunate to be drafted one time. Others have the honor of being drafted twice, once in high school and then again in college. For Adalberto Santos, the third time ended up being the charm. This now outfielder from the Bronx, New York was drafted three times during his amateur career before he started his chase to the major leagues with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

After growing up in the Bronx and attending James Monroe High School, Santos baseball journey took him to the state of New Mexico. He enrolled at New Mexico Junior College and began the next step in his baseball career. During his first season, Santos played in the infield. After finishing the season with a blistering .492 batting average, the slugger received the Rawlings Big Stick award.  He helped lead his team all the way to the final game of the Junior College World Series. Coming off a successful first year, the Toronto Blue Jays selected Santos in the 17th round of the 2007 draft. Santos was all but set to sign a deal to begin his professional journey with the Blue Jays until something came up during his physical. The physical discovered a shoulder injury, a torn labrum, which Santos had been playing with for a portion of the season. The injury did not hinder Santos during the season but it did hinder the Blues Jays who opted not to sign the infielder to a contract.

Santos underwent surgery to repair his labrum and went through extensive rehab in order to return to health. Unfortunately he had to miss his sophomore season of baseball due to the injury. Once recovered he found a home playing in a college summer league for the Woodstock River Bandits in Virginia. It was there where Santos was awakened one morning by a telephone call from Oregon State baseball coach Pat Casey. Upon waking the young Santos up, the two spoke and Casey let Santos know they were interested in him continuing his college career at Oregon State. Santos continued to talk to Casey and others at the school in the weeks that followed and soon a decision was made. Oregon State offered Santos a scholarship and upon his acceptance, he was primed to paly for one of the top ranked college programs in the country.

Once he joined the Beavers he transitioned from the infield where he had played his entire life to center field. There was an opening in the outfield and Santos jumped at the opportunity to show off his speed and talent. In his first year with the Beavers he did just that earning All-Pac 10 honorable mention. Over the course of the season, Santos started 47 games and batted .320 with four home runs. The right-handed hitter also drove in 43 runs which placed him third on the Beavers. After putting up solid numbers and proving to many that he was fully healthy, Santos was drafted for the second time. In the 37th round the San Diego Padres selected Santos but he bypassed a chance to turn pro instead with a goal to finish school and build off his junior year to improve his stock in the 2010 draft.

santosstory

Santos has a career .322 batting average through three minor league seasons

Santos was able to turn those goals into reality during his senior season. The outfielder batted .336 during his senior campaign, blasting 10 home runs while leading the club in stolen bases with 20. He was named to the All Pac-10 First Team at the completion of the season and was set to leave Oregon State and begin his professional career following the 2010 draft. The Pittsburgh Pirates became the third and final team to select Santos in the 22nd round. He signed quickly and got his first taste of professional baseball when he was assigned to the State College Spikes of the NY/Penn League.  Originally when the Pirates selected Santos they announced him as a second baseman but with State College he found himself playing all three outfield positions. Santos made a smooth transition to the professional ranks and hit .319 in 238 at bats. He also contributed to the Spikes offense by hitting 25 extra base hits and swiping 17 stolen bases.

Following the 2010 season the Pirates where aggressive in moving Santos in their system. They Pirates skipped Santos over their full season class A team in West Virginia and placed the outfielder in Bradenton, their advanced Class A affiliate.  Even with the jump in levels all Santos continued to do was hit. Appearing in 105 games with the Marauders, Santos hit .314 showing the Pirates that he was up to their aggressive placement. The outfielder continued to show that he was also an asset on the base paths stealing 27 bases in 31 attempts. Although throughout his first two professional seasons Santos had not shown a knack for the long ball, (10 home runs total) he continued to show the ability to get on base and produce extra base hits. On the defensive side, Santos continued to play every outfield position but the Pirates did also get a 26 game look at Santos back in the infield at second base.

Heading into the 2012 season the Pirates once again promoted Santos, this time to the AA level. He started the season with the Altoona Curve of the Eastern League and once again got off to a hot start hitting a scorching .396. That hot start was brought to a halt when Santos injured his knee in a home plate collision. The injury caused  him to miss the next two months of the season. After a brief rehab stint in the Gulf Coast League, Santos returned to action with the Altoona Curve. While he was unable to continue his .396 early season pace,  he was able to complete the season with a .340 batting average.  The injury limited Santos to 238 at bats but he still managed to get on base at a .425 clip for the season due to his very disciplined approach at the plate.

Following the season the Pirates selected Santos as one of a handful of prospects to represent the organization in the Arizona Fall League. Santos was able to pick up additional at bats and play with and against some of the games best prospects in all of baseball.  Santos appeared in 21 games, accumulating 77 at bats and a .299 batting average during his time in the fall league. During his stint in Altoona he only saw time in the outfield, in the fall league Santos saw sometime in the infield. He was also was able to receive some additional instruction from the coaching staff. With the 2013 season approaching it has yet to be determined if the Pirates will continue to aggressively push Santos to his next level and challenge.  Santos has already proved over every level of baseball that he can hit and he excels at it. With his good eye at the plate and his ability to play a number of positions around the diamond it looks like its only a matter of time before Santos makes his way on to the Pirates roster.

We will be sure to follow Santos every step of the way, from spring training games to the last pitch of the regular season. Follow Adalberto on twitter@SantosSwag and follow-us for updates on all our featured players at @CTD_Sypien.

Seven Questions with Adalberto Santos

1. Leading up to the final time you were drafted did you have any idea the Pirates were interested in you? Who was the scout most responsible for signing you?

Greg Hoppy was the guy. He is a great person and scout from the Pirates organization. He does scouting in the northwest and we stay in frequent contact today. What I remember most about him was there was always a lot of scouts around and he used to always joke around with me that he was going to draft me. He helped make my dreams come true by convincing the Pirates to draft me. The Pirates organization has been great so far.

2. You played infield at Oregon State and in the Pirates organization you have played mostly in the outfield. Is there a position you have the biggest comfort zone in?

When you play a lot of positions you have to try to get comfortable everywhere because you never really know where you are going to be needed. I can play right, left, center, second or third. It’s hard to practice all those positions but its a challenge and I challenge myself to be great at every position.

Growing up I played infield all my life until going to Oregon State. At Oregon State, their center fielder had just graduated and they were looking for someone with some speed who could play center field so I decided to try it. At first I didn’t like balls coming at me from up in the air but I adjusted and made it my business. It was a good transition and I have felt comfortable. I got back into the infield in the fall league which was great. I had great coaches down there and great infield coaches with the Pirates as well. Getting back into the infield has been fun.

3. Has there been a particular instructor or coach in the Pirates system that has made an impact on your professional career?

There are many coaches that have helped me. Everyone in the Pirates organization wants to help us succeed which is a great thing. Greeny (Gary Green) our infield coach, KB
(Kimera Bartee) our outfield running coach are two guys I spend a lot of time with. They have done a great job in preparing me and giving me confidence.

4. You have hit for an impressive .322 career average so far in the minor leagues. What parts of your game must you work on still to reach the major leagues?

I have to work on everything, If I didn’t have stuff to work on and I was perfect then I would already be in the major leagues. I want to work on hitting the balls to the gaps and getting on base. I always try to be the best at what I do. Hitting is a never-ending trade, you learn something every single day. Watching film, hitting balls of the tee, working on your stance and leverage.

5. This fall you had an opportunity to play in the Arizona Fall League. What was that experience like for you?

It was amazing, number one I got to represent the Pittsburgh Pirates and two I was around such a great group of guys. We had guys from all around the league who I had never seen before from all different levels from AAA all the way down. Everyone there is a great prospect, so you get to see everything while your there. It was really a great time to just relax, play some ball, and have some fun. It is a nice feeling  not worrying  about anything besides having fun playing the game and having fun with your teammates. Sometimes you forget to have fun during the regular season since the season is so long. I’m looking forward to next year and playing against some of those guys again.

6. What do you do in the offseason to prepare for the rigors of a full summer of baseball?

I got a new trainer, Steve Schmitter, who has a gym here where I live now in Wilmington, NC. He runs a real nice sports gym calls Port City Sports Performance and he has been training me real hard. We have been doing a lot of sprinting drills and concentrating on being explosive and fast. We got back to a lot of things I felt like I kinda got away from.  He has been able to bring that all back. I feel I’m in condition and ready to go for the season. It can’t come soon enough, I’m counting down the days to be honest.

7. What has been the most memorable moment so far of your professional career?

At every level you have different memories with different guys and different successes. Personally I think mine would be going to the Fall League, It was a big accomplishment for me to be invited there. It’s a great opportunity to show your skills and being able to represent the Pirates is something I’m really proud of.

A Few For Fun

1. Who was your favorite baseball player growing up?

Alex Rodriguez / Derek Jeter….being from The Bronx I watched those guys growing up from when they came into the league.

2. Who has been the toughest pitcher you have faced?

In practice me and Gerrit Cole always go back to back in spring training and when we face each other. I have a book on pitchers and how they try to pitch me. I’m always trying to adjust and get a base hit. I did face a Knuckleball pitcher this year, Steven Wright, he played for the Akron Aeros. He was real tough to hit.

3. Who is the biggest prankster you have come across?

Tony Sanchez, he is always trying to do something slick. We go back and forth on some things and really everyone tries playing jokes on each other.

One time we were on the road in Akron and (Assistant General Manager) Kyle Stark was there. I had no idea someone took back liner and put it all around the rim of my BP hat. I’ve never heard of a prank like this! So I ran in to take batting practice. I took off my hat, grabbed my helmet and was putting my batting gloves on when  Kyle Stark walked up to me and asked  “Whats that on your forehead?” I looked at him all confused  and he then let me know that I had a big black line going across my forehead. So I ran inside to see and sure enough I had a black line across my forehead. Anthony Norman and Tony came up and were laughing. Everyone knew but me! This year I plan on getting someone with that!

A special thanks to Adalberto Santos for taking some time out of his off-season routine to answer some questions and share some great stories with us. We look forward to following him all season long and into the future. Please give Adalberto a follow on twitter @SantosSwag and like us on Facebook and follow us on twitter @CTD_Sypien as we continue to feature and follow all of our featured players as they chase their way to the major leagues.

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