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Santana to show former team his rookie form

Sixth-round pick Bradford signs for bonus above slot value
@Sullivan_Ranger
July 4, 2019

ARLINGTON -- Danny Santana will be back at Target Field on Friday night when the Rangers open a three-game series against the Twins. It will be a significant moment for him. Santana began his career with the Twins and was the club’s Rookie of the Year in 2014. But his

ARLINGTON -- Danny Santana will be back at Target Field on Friday night when the Rangers open a three-game series against the Twins. It will be a significant moment for him.

Santana began his career with the Twins and was the club’s Rookie of the Year in 2014. But his production fell steeply after that, and Santana will be at Target Field for the first time since the Twins traded him to the Braves on May 8, 2017. Santana was hitting .200 at the time, and the Twins had run out of patience.

“I’m happy I am going back to Target Field,” Santana said. “People will get to see me the way I am now and the way I was in that first year.”

They will get to see a player who has completely revived his career with the Rangers after almost playing his way out of the big leagues. Santana hit .319 with a .472 slugging percentage in 101 games for the Twins in 2014 but couldn’t follow that up.

In a four-year span from 2015-18, Santana hit a combined .219 with a .319 slugging percentage for the Twins and the Braves. He spent most of last season at Triple-A and hit .179 in 15 games for the Braves.

“I was frustrated,” Santana said. “After having that first year, the next four years I was really struggling. I was struggling mentally, but I learned a lot from it. I talked to a lot of people. I talked to a psychologist. I learned I had to put things aside. I had to learn to be strong mentally to get back to what I did before.”

The Rangers signed him to a Minor League contract this winter, and Santana did not mind when they sent him to Triple-A Nashville to begin the season.

“No, not at all,” Santana said. “I had to do my job. If the Rangers needed me, I was going to be ready.”

The Rangers needed him on April 13 when Rougned Odor went on the injured list with a right knee sprain. Odor missed just two weeks, but Santana isn’t going away. Santana went into Thursday’s game hitting .297 with a .523 slugging percentage over 59 games. He has done so while starting at six different positions, including first base for the first time in his career.

“It’s hard to understand his importance,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “He has been crucial not only where we are record-wise, but health-wise he has filled in and allowed guys to have days off. He has played a significant role and a productive role any place we’ve put him. He understands his role and is not going to complain. Just a true team-first guy.”

Rangers sign four

The Rangers have signed four more Draft picks, including left-hander Cody Bradford, a sixth-round pick out of Baylor. Bradford was the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year in 2018 but missed most of this season because of thoracic outlet syndrome in his left shoulder.

Bradford could have gone much higher in the Draft without the injury, and the Rangers are expecting full recovery. They gave him a $700,000 signing bonus; the slot value was $284,200.

The Rangers also signed right-handed pitcher Nicholas Lockhart (11th round, Woodgrove High School in Purcellville, Va.), right-hander Gavin Collyer (12th round, Mountain View High School in Lawrenceville, Ga.) and right-hander Marc Church (18th round, North Atlanta High School in Atlanta). The Rangers have signed 25 of 41 picks from last month’s Draft.

Rangers beat

• Right-handed pitcher Shelby Miller, who was designated for assignment, has been placed on release waivers. If he is not claimed by Saturday, he becomes a free agent. The Rangers have interest in signing him to a Minor League contract and using him as a reliever at Triple-A.

• Catcher Isiah Kiner-Falefa was 0-for-5 Wednesday with Nashville in his third game on medical rehab assignment. The Rangers should get him back after the All-Star break.

• Woodward said the Rangers’ first three starters after the All-Star break are likely to be Lance Lynn, Jesse Chavez and Mike Minor. The Rangers open the second half with a four-game series against the Astros at Globe Life Park.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.