Andres Santiago and Jharel Cotton are not generally ranked among the top 10 prospects in the Dodgers’ organization. Fact is, unless you’re a prospect wonk, or you’ve been to baseball games in Chattanooga or Rancho Cucamonga this season, you probably haven’t heard of them.
After reading this, you might not hear from either pitcher again.
But in 2014 Santiago and Cotton did something few minor-league pitchers do — or even get the chance to do.
The two ranked first and second on Baseball America’s list of the best minor-league starts of 2014. Both authored complete-game shutouts this season: Santiago tossed a no-hitter for Double-A Chatanooga seven days ago and Cotton threw a two-hit shutout for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga on July 29.
Santiago, 24, was a 16th-round draft pick out of Puerto Rico in 2007. Take away the no-hitter, and he had a 4.80 ERA (which is about a full run above the Southern League average ERA of 3.85).
Cotton, 22, was a 20th-round draft pick out of Eastern Carolina University in 2012. Take away the shutout, and he had a 4.36 ERA for the season (which is still below the California League average ERA of 4.62).
Here’s more from Matt Eddy’s piece:
Though he went just 6-8, 4.47 while allowing 1.1 home runs per nine innings in his second full season at Double-A, Santiago balanced the ledger somewhat by firing a nine-inning no-hitter against Tennessee on the final Thursday of the season. The Smokies lineup that day was fully stocked, with top Cubs prospects Albert Almora and Addison Russell batting second and third (and Christian Villanueva and Rubi Silva batting fifth and seventh). Santiago has pitched professionally since signing as a 16th-round pick out of high school in Puerto Rico in 2007, and he intrigued the Dodgers enough that they re-signed him following the 2013 season rather than let him test minor league free agency. What will the two parties decide this fall?
Born in the U.S. Virgin Islands and selected by the Dodgers in the 20th round of the 2012 draft from East Carolina, Cotton put together a big year in the Cal League. Not only did he rank among the league leaders in ERA (4.05), strikeouts (138) and WHIP (1.16), but he pitched one of the finest games in the minors this season on July 29, when he shut out Lake Elsinore on two hits while striking out 11.