By Steve Mims
Dawson Santana will follow his parents to Oregon State.
The Lakeridge High School senior originally committed to Oregon before switching his decision to follow the family tradition with the Beavers. His dad, Chomo, was a wrestler at OSU while his mom, Renee, was a two-time All-American gymnast with the Beavs.
Santana visited OSU baseball coach Mitch Canham and assistant Ryan Gipson during travel tournaments before picking the Beavers last summer.
“Oregon State is one of the best programs in the nation and a big thing with them is defense,” Santana said. “They like athletic guys that perform hard. It is a great coaching staff and environment.”
Santana will stay close to home this summer when he plays for the Springfield Drifters in the West Coast League, a wood-bat circuit featuring some of the top college players in the country. The Drifters open their second season at beautiful Hamlin Field on June 2nd against Port Angeles and tickets are now available.
“Playing in the West Coast League will be big for me,” he said. “I will face pitchers from higher levels of baseball and older, more physical guys. You are going to get exposed at times, but that has to happen to get better. Outside of baseball, it will get me ready for the college scenario playing with a bunch of guys in their second or third year of college ball.”
The 5-foot-7 infielder has emerged as one of the top prep prospects in the Northwest playing at Lakeridge, one of the highest-ranked teams in 6A.
“My senior year has been fun,” he said. “It is a little different role than last year when we had a few older guys in the lineup.
I have had a few games where I have not seen a fastball, getting a lot of off-speed pitches, but what works for me is my speed and ability to run the bases so people don’t try to walk me. It has been a lot of fun and a challenge to compete.”
Lakeridge is ranked No. 2 in the state and off to a 9-2 start with both losses to California teams. The Pacers play in the Three Rivers League, which features nearly a dozen pitchers who will play in college.
“Even in preseason, we are seeing teams’ best guys,” Santana said. “We get a lot of guys who run it up a bit so I am looking forward to competing.”
Santana is a plus defender in the middle of the infield.
“I have always been a smaller kid, when I was little I never hit the ball out of the ballpark like some dudes,” he said. “But I got comfortable in the weight room and defense has been my priority. People go though slumps at the plate, the best players fail 70 percent of the time, but defense does not slump and that wins championships.”
Santana was a high school teammate of University of Washington infielder Cam Clayton, who played for the Portland Pickles in the WCL, and also played on teams with Eli Holbert, a pitcher from Sherwood who played for the Drifters last season.
“One of the biggest things they told me is that that it gets you ready for college,” Santana said. “You need to value and take advantage of the opportunity to be around the college atmosphere.”