MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL: Newcomer Santos helping power RockHounds’ recent success

Outfielder Jhonny Santos has come up big for the Midland RockHounds when they needed him most.

With the RockHounds in the middle of a six-game homestand against the Amarillo Sod Poodles, Santos is tied for fifth on the team with four home runs and eighth with 17 RBIs.

He hit two homers in a series sweep of the Corpus Christi Hooks on the road, then hit a deep ball to start the home series in a victory Tuesday.

Santos drove in nine runs with his home runs, helping the RockHounds fashion a season-high eight-game winning streak.

“He’s done an awesome job,” RockHounds manager Bobby Crosby said. “He’s a guy who has fit in well with the team, he can really do everything.”

After his recent display of batting power, the manager described Santos as a well-rounded player.

Santos is currently in his first season with the RockHounds, joining the Oakland Athletics organization after signing a minor league contract in November.

Before the Puerto Armuelles, Panama native was assigned to the Permian Basin, he already had considerable experience in the minor leagues.

He signed his first professional contract with the Miami Marlins organization in 2013 and spent time in their farm system.

Santos said he was noticed by professional scouts after playing in tournaments in Panama.

His journey led him to many cities, being assigned to the West Virginia Power before taking on free agency.

After signing with the A’s, Santos was assigned to the RockHounds in early May.

Crosby said the outfielder has done a good job fitting in and working with the other Midland players in the locker room.

“He’s a guy who mixes in,” Crosby said. “We’ve got a good clubhouse here, guys are always dancing and having fun. He fits right in as one of the guys.”

Santos got off to a quick start when the season finally started in May.

He went on to record seven RBIs by the time the month was over.

June was a different story as he battled through an injury that cut into his playing time.

Santos was placed on Midland’s injury list on June 4 and wasn’t activated for action until June 19 when the team was on the road against the Sod Poodles.

He seemed to regain some of his rhythm as the calendar flipped over to July, totaling nine RBIs and three home runs to this point.

Crosby said Santos will look for his pitch and try to do some damage when it’s his turn to bat.

“As he continues to grow and develop and mature, he’s going to end up doing more damage,” Crosby said.

Santos’ impact at the plate was evident in the RockHounds’ 5-4 win to open the series against the Sod Poodles.

Midland trailed 2-0 early in the contest until an RBI double from Nick Allen tied the score in the bottom of the fifth inning.

After JJ Schwarz made the score 3-2 for the RockHounds with a double to right field, Santos went up and hit a two-run homer to deep left field to essentially seal the victory.

Crosby was impressed by the home run because he said the ballpark isn’t an easy place to hit deep.

Santos said helping the RockHounds secure a win felt good because he always wants to do what’s best for the team.

He believes he made the right choice in signing his minor league deal with the Athletics.

“I think it’s a good organization,” Santos said. “To be here in Midland, I’m happy to be here.”

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