Apr 9, 2010, 3:48 PM EST
Part of the reason why the Indians were willing to trade both Victor Martinez and Kelly Shoppach last season is that they have stud catching prospect Carlos Santana waiting in the wings at Triple-A.
Acquired from the Dodgers in mid-2008 as part of the Casey Blake deal, Santana was initially expected to begin this season on the disabled list because of a broken hamate bone in right hand suffered while playing winter ball. Instead, he celebrated his 24th birthday last night by going 4-for-5 with two homers and a double in the Triple-A opener.
For now Lou Marson is Cleveland’s starting catcher and at just 24 years old he’s a solid enough prospect in his own right, but when Santana is ready the Indians won’t hesitate to clear a path for him and that time may be right around the corner.
Prior to his big Triple-A debut Santana played 133 games at Double-A, hitting .289 with a .409 on-base percentage thanks to an outstanding 90/85 K/BB ratio. He also smacked 25 homers and 30 doubles in just 440 at-bats for a .536 slugging percentage. Toss in good defense behind the plate from a 24-year-old switch-hitter and Santana is one of the best and perhaps most underrated prospects in all of baseball.
If he can avoid a setback with the hand injury my guess is that Santana will be in Cleveland to stay in the second half, so the Indians have a few months to determine whether Marson fits better as trade bait or a long-term backup.
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