Reliever's role with Louisville Bats foreshadows first Reds' promotion of 2024

Tony Santillan barely missed making the Reds Opening Day roster.
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Tony Santillan (64) delivers a pitch.
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Tony Santillan (64) delivers a pitch. / Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Reds bullpen had some hiccups during the team's opening week series against the Washington Nationals. Alexis Diaz, Emilio Pagán, Tejay Antone, Buck Farmer and Lucas Sims all had moments when it seemed as if things weren't quite right.

The Reds' visit to Citizen's Bank Park earlier this week offered some relief, as almost every reliever performed up to expectations against the Philadelphia Phillies. The Reds bullpen seems set for the moment, and fans shouldn't expect any major roster shakeups. But when the time comes to inevitably call up a pitcher from Triple-A, it'll be Tony Santillan.

Santillan has appeared in three games for the Louisville Bats so far this season and has shined every time he's stepped onto the mound. More importantly, Santillan is the Bats' closer, signaling that when the Reds are in a need of an additional, high-leverage arm, the right-hander will get the call.

Tony Santillan's role with Louisville Bats foreshadows next Reds' promotion

Closing out games is nothing new for Santillan. The former second-round pick had a short stint in that role while with the big league club back in 2022. Santillan has four major league saves under his belt, though he's also blown three save opportunities as well.

Just because Santillan is currently working as the Bats' closer does not in any way suggest that when he eventually gets called up to the majors that he'd entertain the same role for the Reds. That job belongs to Diaz, and that's not even up for debate.

Santillan has worked three innings for the Bats this season, owns a 3.00 ERA with four strikeouts, no walks, and two saves. Santillan did not get the save in Louisville's game against the Gwinnett Stripers on Thursday night, but entered during the ninth inning of a tie ballgame and sat the opposition down in order.

Santillan had a case to be part of the Reds Opening Day roster, but being a non-roster invitee and out of minor-league options, it made sense at the time to outright the Texas native to Triple-A. Santillan's return to the major leagues is coming, it's just a matter of when.

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