Trae Santos wins home run derby

HOME RUN CHAMP: Trae Santos, left, won the Frontier League Home Run Derby in St. Louis, Mo., July 11. Standing next to Santos is former major league player Rick Ankiel. Photo courtesy of Frontier League Facebook page

On June 17, The Guam Daily Post reported that former minor league baseball player Trae Santos began playing for the Gateway Grizzlies, outside of St. Louis, Missouri, in the Frontier League.

“Coming to the Grizzlies was exciting for me. Getting another opportunity to play was really all I could ask for,” Santos said.

Since joining the Grizzlies, Santos’ numbers have skyrocketed and he leads the team with 55 hits, 11 home runs, 34 RBIs and 30 walks. The Barrigada native is batting .288 and has safely hit in eight of his last 10 games.

On Wednesday, Santos took part in the Frontier League Home Run Derby and bested the 16-man field, blasting 32 shots out of the park over four rounds.

Former major league players Rick Ankiel, Ray Lankford, Kerry Robinson and Mark Whiten participated in the event.

The 12-team Frontier League is a professional, independent baseball organization with teams primarily in the Midwest that are not affiliated with major league clubs. However, the league serves as a pipeline for players trying to get back into the minor leagues with players regularly signed to minor league contracts.

Santos’ baseball career appeared to be over after getting cut from the Major League Baseball San Diego Padres organization in September 2016. His stint in the professional ranks landed him in Eugene, Oregon, playing short-season Class-A ball for the Emeralds.

In 2015, Santos was called up to play first base for the Class-A Fort Wayne TinCaps. In 2016, his journey continued as a member of the Class-A Advanced Lake Elsinore Storm.

Santos made his last minor league baseball appearance on Sept. 3, 2016, playing Double-A for the San Antonio Missions.

“I’m really enjoying being back on the field,” Santos said.