South Pacific to South Alabama: Troy’s Santos shines

Published 10:37 pm Friday, March 29, 2013

At age 13, Trae Santos was adjusting to life on the American mainland. He and his family had spent the first 12 years of his life on the tiny island of Guam. It was there that Santos fell in love with baseball and found he had a knack for playing the game.

At age 12, he led his country to the 2005 Little League World Series quarterfinals pitching – and winning – in two games in Williamsport, Pa.

“It was a great experience,” Santos said. “I got to play against some great players and pitch against Russia and Mexico. Being treated like a Major League player was great.”

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The popularity of the Little League World Series has exploded in recent years and to play in front of a national audience could rattle a 12-year-old but Santos says being young and naive helped ignore the size of the stage on which he was playing.

“At that point, I was just told to go out there and play like I had so many time before,” Santos said. “Meeting people like Tony Gwynn was nerve racking but once I got out on the field I settled in.”

Santos settled near Birmingham and was a standout pitcher for Pelham High School. Santos’ high school coach didn’t think much of the import at first until the youngster impressed him one day in physical education class. Santos fired a soccer ball the length of the gym that stunned his coach so much that he halted play to discuss baseball tryouts.

Santos caught the eye of Troy coaches as well while playing for Northwest Florida State College in Niceville.

So far in his junior season, Santos is batting .309 with five home runs and 32 home runs.

Santos, a humble 6-foot first baseman, does really talk about his time in the limelight to his Troy teammates. He didn’t mention it in his bio and the Troy Sports Information Department only learned of it through a Google search.

His hard work ethic is paying off for him now at the Division I level, though he takes a few reminders with him onto the field.

He has two phrases written on his tapped wrists. One says “Let go and let God” the other says “Pitch by Pitch”.

“I had a hard time with the transition from offense to defense, I would take a bad at bat with me to the field. My mom would say the baseball gods got me,” he said. “It just a reminder to let it go and let the game play out. I’ll see here in the stand tapping her chest and mouthing ‘let go and let God’ and it helps to calm me down.”

He also picked up a tip from teammate Logan Pierce. “Slow feet, fast hands, quiet head” is written under his cap bill and taped to his helmet to remind of his offensive approach.

“In the heat of everything, you’re not going to remember to go through all of your processes,” Santos said. “If you can have help, you might as well use it.”