{}
CLOSE

Now Commenting On:

{"content":["first-year_player_draft" ] }

Late transfer: Santiago Jr. a fast learner

Late transfer: Santiago Jr. a fast learner

|
MILWAUKEE -- Benito Santiago played 20 seasons in the big leagues, beginning in 1986 with the San Diego Padres and ending in Pittsburgh in 2005.

Draft Central

His son, Benito Santiago Jr., hung out in Major League clubhouses, so it would seem natural that the kid would gravitate toward the game. Instead, Benito Jr. was interested in basketball. As a senior in high school, he averaged 18.5 points a game. He played at Miami Dade Community College, but he transferred to Lon Morris College in Jacksonville, Texas, to play basketball. Santiago did receive some interest from Division I schools.

On Wednesday, the Cubs picked Benito Jr. in the 31st round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. He's only played organized baseball for about 16 months.

"It's a great story," Lon Morris baseball coach Josh Stewart said on Thursday of Santiago, who could've been a wide receiver on a college football team, he's that fast. "He's an unbelievable athlete."

Santiago, who turns 21 on June 22, apparently started hanging out with some of the guys on the Lon Morris baseball team in 2009. He asked Stewart about possibly playing when the basketball season ended, which was in March. Santiago did well in the workouts. The baseball team had a couple of injuries and needed some help, so Stewart agreed to let the kid with the great bloodlines in.

"This is a kid who hadn't played baseball in six years," Stewart said.

Santiago played the final 20 games of the 2009 season with the Lon Morris team, and did better than OK. This year, he spent the entire season with the baseball team and hit .357 with five homers, 23 RBIs and 26 stolen bases. Those numbers will get a Major League scout's attention.

"He's such a great kid -- one of my favorites who I've ever coached," Stewart said.

Santiago now is 6-foot-5, and with his speed, would probably do well as a corner outfielder. He played first base this season with the college team.

"His dad said he could play third base," Stewart said.

Where the Cubs project Santiago has yet to be determined. He's got the genes for the game.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["first-year_player_draft" ] }
{"content":["first-year_player_draft" ] }
Boys and Girls Club of America

©2014 MLBAM, LP. All rights reserved.

The following are trademarks or service marks of Major League Baseball entities and may be used only with permission of Major League Baseball Properties, Inc. or the relevant Major League Baseball entity: Major League, Major League Baseball, MLB, the silhouetted batter logo, World Series, National League, American League, Division Series, League Championship Series, All-Star Game, and the names, nicknames, logos, uniform designs, color combinations, and slogans designating the Major League Baseball clubs and entities, and their respective mascots, events and exhibitions. Use of the Website signifies your agreement to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy (updated May 24, 2013).

View MLB.com in English | En Español