Colombia – RHP Santiago Florez
Columbia has produced 28 total players. While they’ve never produced a Hall Of Famer, the Pirates do have the second-best player to ever come out of Colombia and play in the United States, that being Jose Quintana. Quintana has the second most bWAR of all time among Colombian-born players. But we’re not here to talk about Quintana. We’re here to look at right-hander Santiago Florez.
Santiago Florez was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates back in 2017. After a few mediocre years from 2017 through 2019, Florez looked like he was on his way to figuring things out in 2021. His first 52.2 innings of the season saw him post a 1.37 ERA, 2.07 FIP, and 0.85 WHIP. He struck out well over a third of batters faced with a 34.6% strikeout rate while having a quality 6.8% walk rate. The best part of all of this? He didn’t allow a single home run. That is correct; no home runs in over 50 innings of work.
This earned him a promotion to High-A Greensboro, but things didn’t go so well for him there. He pitched 43 total innings posting a 7.53 ERA, 6.49 FIP, and 1.81 WHIP. His strikeout rate plummeted to just 18%, while his walk rate shot up to 10.5%. Meanwhile, he would go on to surrender nine home runs. Granted, he did have some bad batted ball luck with a .366 BAbip, as well as playing in a hitter-friendly environment, but Florez still has plenty of questions to answer moving forward.
Florez has some truly elite-level stuff. His four-seamer sits in the low-to-mid-90’s but averages out with over 2400 RPM. Meanwhile, his curveball comes in with 2800 RPM. They’re both projected to be 60-grade offerings. The thing is, that’s all he throws.
Florez has all the hallmarks of a reliever: two excellent pitches and so-so command. So far, he’s only made three professional appearances out of the bullpen, but he may just very well end up as a late-inning arm in Altoona next year. 2022 is his age-22 season, and while there is a chance another team scoops him up in the Rule 5 draft, it’s not very likely.