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 Minnesota Twins twins Players twins 57 Johan Santana; Pitcher
     
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Johan Alexander Santana 57 Johan Santana; Pitcher

Name: Johan Alexander Santana
Birth date: 03/13/1979
Birthplace: Tovar Merida, Venezuela
Height: 6-0
Weight: 205
School: N/A
Draft: Undrafted Free Agent
Nickname: none Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Position: Pitcher
Experience: 5 years
2005 Salary: $4,750,000
Contract Status: signed 4-year deal worth 40M thru 2008 with added performance incentives Service Time: 4.122
Service Time: 4.122

Minnesota Twins Star Pitcher, Johan Santana, was born in Tovar, Mérida State, Venezuela. Johan attended Liceo Jose Nucete Sardi (VZ) High School where he played baseball and soccer. Johan was signed by the Houston Astros as a non-draft free agent in 1995. He was later selected by the Florida Marlins from Houston in the 1999 Rule 5 draft. Finally, Johan Santana was traded to the Twins and made his debut in the 2000 season.

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A long reliever most of his career, in 2003 Johan Santana took over a starting role after pitching in the bullpen nearly four months. He went 8-0 after August and pitched the ALDS opening game against the Yankees. His pitching dominance has been compared to Sandy Koufax and Nolan Ryan. He became the first pitcher since 1961 to give up four or fewer hits in ten straight starts, and his 13-0 record broke the old Major League second-half mark shared between Burt Hooton and Rick Sutcliffe.

In 2004, Johan continued his winning ways with averages of 11.13 strikeouts per nine innings, 1.21 ERA, 4.74 hits per nine innings, and 6.73 baserunners per nine innings. Johan also set a team season record with 265 strikeouts, surpassing the old 258 mark registered by Bert Blyleven in 1973. He finished in good form with a 20-6 record, and lead the American League pitchers in strikeouts (265), ERA (2.61), strikeouts per 9 IP (10.46), WHIP (0.92), batting average allowed (.192), OBP (.249), SLG (.315) and OPS (.564), walking only 54 in 228 innings. Opponents stole only six bases in seven attempts against him, and his 20 victories ranked him second behind only Curt Schilling, who won 21 games for the Red Sox. He easily won the American League Cy Young Award over Schilling with all 28 first-place votes.

Johan is tough on both righthanded and lefthanded hitters. He works quickly and throws a 95 mph fastball, an 87 mph hard slider and a 76 mph changeup. The changeup is the most devastating, because it comes out of his hand looking just like his fastball. When it arrives 18 MPH slower than the heater, hitters swing and miss by embarrassing margins. His pitches are too close to take, but difficult to drive. Batters often find themselves lunging after balls that are down and out of the strike zone. He finished 2005 with the second-lowest ERA in the American League, with an ERA of 2.87.

Johan Santana grew up playing shortstop and center field, so he has plenty of athletic ability. He has shown more composure in dealing with grounders, bunts and baserunners, but the lefthander still committed four errors in 2004 and posted a fielding percentage below .900 for the fourth straight season. He does vary his moves to first often enough to make stealing against him difficult.

He has great stamina and has learned to condition himself as a starter. He does throw a lot of pitches which makes complete games a rarity. He threw one complete game last summer, but it won’t be his last. Johan Santana should be one of the game's best pitchers for years to come.

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