Continuing with my look at impact prospects for the 2010 season today we will take a look at Cleveland Indians catcher Carlos Santana. Santana came to the Indians organization in 2008 as part of a deal that sent Casey Blake to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The departure of Victor Martinez all but assures that there will be a catcher opening for Santana next season, at least sharing the duties with incumbent Kelly Shoppach.
The 23-year old switch-hitter has emerged as an elite catching prospect with a major league ready bat. He spent the entire 2009 season with the Akron Aeros of the Eastern League (Double-A) putting together an an eye-popping line of .290/.413/.530. His plate discipline is also advanced beyond his age. He drew 90 walks this season compared to 83 strikeouts. These numbers were no fluke either, in 2008 he posted a .431 on-base percentage and .227 ISO at the Advanced-A level.
Defensively Santana is still raw. He needs to refine his receiving skills and improve his ability to block balls in the dirt. He has a strong arm but his accuracy is inconsistent at times. Santana makes up for his deficiencies with plenty of agility and athleticism behind the plate. Overall, he projects to be an average defensive catcher.
Santana is probably a notch below Matt Wieters or Buster Posey in terms of ceiling but he could still develop into a consistent all-star caliber player. He will likely compete for playing time in spring training and could have the starting spot nailed down by mid-season in 2010.
Santana will likely hit for a solid average and decent power numbers, in the range of 20-25 home runs. His real value will be in his ability to draw walks and reach base. I think we can expect a batting line in the range of .280/.375/.450 in the future.