GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Sergio Santos has done pretty well for himself by now, to put it mildly. He was a millionaire at the age of 18 after signing with the Arizona Diamondbacks, who drafted him in the first round as a shortstop out of Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, California, 13 years ago.
The Toronto Blue Jays paid him $4.5 million last season, several years after he made the career switch to relief pitching.
But his financial success is dwarfed by that of his older brother, Gabe, who is a founding partner at Homestead Capital, a hedge fund that invests in farmland in the Midwest and California. Gabe Santos, a former walk-on linebacker at UCLA, previously worked for Goldman Sachs.
"He's my retirement Plan B, my 401(k) if this doesn't work out," Sergio Santos joked.
The Santos clan is a nice American success story. Santos' father, Jose, emigrated from Jalisco, Mexico as a teenager with no knowledge of English. He met his future wife, Lidia, in a Los Angeles restaurant. Jose Santos worked as a cook and Lidia worked as a hostess. They managed to raise three sometimes-unruly boys, each born three years after the next, in East Hacienda Heights. The middle son, Eddie, who also attended UCLA, works in the business offices of a major coffee and refreshments distributor.
"My dad was super old-school, just stern beyond strict," Santos said. "It stunk as a little kid, but I find it being really good now. I needed it. I'm getting it now from my youngest son. He has no fear of anything. He's just a crazy little rascal. I was kind of that way, so I needed my dad to be strict, kind of keep me out of trouble."
Santos, who has a 4.70 spring ERA, is scheduled to pitch in Tuesday afternoon's game against the Chicago White Sox, the team that turned him into a pitcher and for whom he was a successful closer in 2011.
After a trade back to Toronto, Santos' career foundered a bit after some injuries. He's trying to make the Los Angeles Dodgers' Opening Day roster and injuries to Kenley Jansen and Brandon League figure to give him a good chance. If Santos is sent to Triple-A Oklahoma City, he'll be owed a bonus of $60,000. If he makes the Dodgers, he'd make a base salary of $1 million and could earn as much as $3.05 million if he reaches his incentives.
He'd also get the chance to pitch at Dodger Stadium, 25 miles from where he grew up. His parents could come to a lot more games than when he was in Chicago or Toronto.
"It'd be like a dream come true," Santos said. "They're both excited, have their fingers cross and all that stuff, so we'll see."