Scouting the Swap: Santos for Molina

With the winter meetings underway, deals both large and small are likely to pick up this week and that trend started today as the White Sox flipped Sergio Santos to the Blue Jays for Nestor Molina.

Santos is a solid enough late inning reliever but that is not what I want to focus on in this post. Instead, I want to provide a little detail on the scouting report of new White Sox prospect Nestor Molina. I scouted Molina in Double-A twice this summer and have talked to several other scouts that saw him throughout the year.

Despite eye-popping numbers (2.21 ERA in 130.1 IP, 114 H, 16 BB, 148 K across two levels) the 22-year old Molina isn’t an elite level prospect. The proud owner of at least four pitches, Molina can impart spin to the ball and locate everything he throws very well.

With a fastball that he can command at an above-average level, Molina offers the ability to mix a four-seam fastball that can reach 92-93 mph on occasion, while also keeping hitters at bay with a sinker and cutter that work in the 88-90 mph range. His ability to command all three variants of his fastball allows him to control at-bats even in obvious fastball counts.

Backing up his fastball Molina will throw a curveball, slider and change-up, all three of which grade as at least average pitches during most outings. His change-up is the best of the three pitches earning regular plus grades from scouts.

The combination of multiple fastball variations, his off-speed pitches and his ability to locate the ball all combine with his outstanding knowledge of pitch sequence and the “art of pitching.”

Molina has a decent frame and could still add some good mass to his body as he completes his physical maturation. Though White Sox fans may believe they received a heftier bounty for Santos, Molina profiles as a solid back of the rotation starter in the big leagues. That said, he will likely rank very highly in the White Sox Top 15 rankings when they debut on Thursday, and that says as much about the rest of the White Sox system as it does Nestor Molina.

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3 Responses to Scouting the Swap: Santos for Molina

  1. Fantasy Nomad says:

    Mark,
    Love the work so far here at BPN. One thing that caught my attention with this article is that you mention a lot of positives and yet, state that Molina “profiles as a solid back of rotation starter, ” but why, is my question? It seems, on what you have to say, that he would project higher, in combination with his numbers and if we consider the lack of miles on his arm. Mark, would you elaborate a little more on what flaws he may have? Thanks

    • Mark A. says:

      Excellent question. I should have spent more time discussing his flaws and explaining the summation of my report.

      The bottom line is that his stuff comes up a little short for me outside of command/control. He doesn’t have a single pitch he can rely on to miss bats at the MLB level. He can mix a variety of pitches and that works very well against inexperienced minor league hitters, but won’t work nearly as well against MLB hitters.

      At his age a chance remains that something in his game steps forward. Maybe he ticks up in velocity (I don’t see it with his arm speed and delivery) or one of his breaking balls jumps further up the scale. If that happens then maybe he could move more into the middle of the rotation. For now though, without that one standout pitch he remains more of the back of the rotation, command and control guy for me.

  2. Kevin K. says:

    Nothing the Sox do is right with these geniuses. The Sox sucked in 2005 too, right?

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