Reds anticipating injury-free season after re-signing former top prospect

The Reds added some depth to their bullpen with this minor-league signing.

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Tony Santillan
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Tony Santillan / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

Tony Santillan was, at one time, one of the top prospects in the Cincinnati Reds farm system. But a lot has changed for the right-hander since 2019.

Santillan was rated as the No. 5 overall prospect in the Reds pipeline according to The hard-throwing Texan looked to be on track to be a dominant force in the Reds rotation.

The 2020 minor league season was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but after a strong start in Triple-A to begin the 2021 season, Santillan earned a call-up to the big leagues. Unfortunately, injuries have crippled the former second-round pick in recent years.

Reds anticipating injury-free season after re-signing Tony Santillan

After designating Tony Santillan for assignment last summer, the Cincinnati Reds are giving the right-hander another shot. Cincinnati inked Santillan to a minor league contract on Thursday with an invite to spring training.

This is a low-risk/high-reward move on the part of the Reds. Santillan was DFA'd last summer after returning from a back injury and absolutely falling flat during his rehab.

Santillan made it back to the bigs in 2023 for just three games and looked like a shell of himself. The right-hander made it through just 3.1 innings of work and walked five batters while striking out just one.

After posting an ERA near 8.00 in 32 innings during his time at Triple-A, it became necessary to free up a roster spot and Santillan was DFA'd. However, the right-hander never latched on with another team and will be back in Goodyear next spring.

As was the case with Tejay Antone last year, the expectations surrouding Santillan should be guarded with cautious optimism. The talent is there for the right-hander to be an effective reliever out of the bullpen, but Santillan hasn't been healthy in about two years.

If Tony Santillan is fully healthy heading into next spring, there's every reason to believe the 26-year-old could be part of the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster in 2024.