Prospect Review – Carlos Santana – C – Cleveland Indians

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The Basics
Bats: Switch
Throws: Right
How Acquired: Traded from the Los Angeles Dodgers for 3B Casey Blake (7/26/2008)
Age: 23

2008 – Inland Empire (California League – Dodgers High A) – 99 games

  • .323/.431/.563
  • 14 HR, 96 RBI
  • 69 BB, 59 K

2008 – Kinston (Carolina League – Indians High-A) – 29 games

  • .352/.452/.590
  • 6 HR, 19 RBI
  • 20 BB, 24 K

2008 – Akron (Eastern League – Indians AA) – 2 games

  • 1-8, HR, 2 RBI

2008 Totals

  • .326/.431/.568
  • 21 HR, 117 RBI
  • 89 BB, 85 K

2009 – Akron (Eastern League – Indians AA) – 130 games

  • .290/.413/.530
  • 23 HR, 97 RBI
  • 90 BB, 83 K

Prospect Rankings
Baseball America – #1 (CLE – 3/2009)
Project Prospect – #2 (Overall – 9/2009)
Baseball Prospectus – #1 (CLE – 12/2009)
John Sickels – #17 (Hitters – 3/2009), #1 (CLE – 12/2008)


In 2008, Santana really came into his own offensively. He showed truly elite power production, especially when considering the premium defensive position that he plays. In 2008, he posted 21 homers, 117 rbi, 39 doubles, and 5 triples along with a .326/.431/.568 line. While I would normally have some concerns about the stats that he put up in the California League, he continued to perform at a high level when he changed over to the Carolina League.

The part of his offense that I really like is his batting eye. This skill set was visible even in his early years, as he has always drawn nearly as many walks as strikeouts.

2005: 16 bb/8k
2006: 53/62
2007: 40/45
2008: 89/85
2009: 90/83

I am a firm believer in the idea that the ability to draw walks and make contact are critical to major league success. Of some concern from that 2008 season would be his batting average on balls-in-play (.413). As a result, I would have expected to see a correction to the mean, and see a reduction in his statistics in 2009. However, he posted a BABIP of .300 in 2009, while still showing excellent power and a solid batting average.

Digging a little deeper, I looked into his hand splits (LH/RH), as he is a switch-hitter.

2009 vs. Left     .340/.464/.627 BABIP of .353
2009 vs. Right  .266/.390/.492 BABIP of .286

Career vs. Left   .327/.448/.552 BABIP of .350
Career vs. Right .271/.383/.464 BABIP of .301

The fact that he has such a drop between the two hands concerned me, so I looked at what I believe to be a comparable player.

Jorge Posada

Career vs. Left    .299/.381/.496 BABIP of .351
Career vs. Right ..268/.378/.474 BABIP of .307

Having seen this, I don’t believe that the drop in on-base and slugging percentage to be that much of a red flag. While it is definitely too early to expect Jorge Posada out of Santana, I do believe it is a fair comparison (switch hitter, catcher, slugger).

The bat definitely appears to be legitimate. So what are the chances that Santana can stick at catcher?

In 2008, Carlos threw out 34 of 127 basestealers (27%), and 24 out of 80 in 2009 (30%). This should experience a slight dropoff as he goes towards the Majors and sees better basestealers. However, the major league percentage for 2009 was 27.6%, so he definitely should be at least league average at holding baserunners. I can see him being a Victor Martinez type, where he’s not an issue behind the plate, but is probably not going to be the best defensive catcher you’ve ever seen.


Realistically, I did not see the Indians bringing Santana to the Majors to start 2010 even before his injury. They have Lou Marson currently slotted as their starting catcher, and it seems to me that it would be a step backward in terms of development to have Santana either platoon with Marson or be his backup. Added together with the surgery to remove his hamate bone, I am thinking that he spends the majority, if not all, of 2010 in AAA. Ideally, when they are ready to bring him up to catch, I think it would be in their best interests to pair him with a defensive minded veteran catcher to help teach and tutor him (like a Brad Ausmus type).

Prediction for 2010

.285/.400/.520 – 25 doubles, 25 homeruns, 95 rbi (AAA)

Expected ETA
Late 2010. Starter in 2011 most likely.

3 responses to “Prospect Review – Carlos Santana – C – Cleveland Indians

  1. My favorite thing about Santana is his plate discipline.

  2. Pingback: How are They Doing So Far? part 1 « Jason's Baseball Blog

  3. Pingback: Prospect Reviews: Midseason Review – Majors and AAA « Jason's Baseball Blog

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