When the Cleveland Indians traded 3B Casey Blake to the Los Angeles Dodgers back in the summer of 2008 for prospect Carlos Santana, I was really surprised. Santana was a rising prospect in the Dodgers organization and was hitting .323 with 14 home runs in High Single A at the time of the trade.
The Dodgers also threw in RHP Jonathan Meleon, who was ranked as the eighth best prospect in the Dodgers system prior to 2008 by Baseball America. That is a lot to give up for Blake, who was going to be nothing more than a complementary player on a team trying to win a World Series.
Now, almost two years later, Santana has blossomed into one of the best prospects in baseball and Blake is still a complementary player on a team trying to win the World Series.
The Indians called up Santana today and I have a feeling the Dodgers are going to regret this trade more than they already do. Santana is a switch-hitting catcher who has tremendous power.
Think of Santana as a better hitting version of former Indian and current Boston Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez. Like Martinez, Santana has struggled somewhat with his defense in the minors and will be thought of more as an offensive catcher.
Santana will catch and bat third for the Indians tonight against the Washington Nationals.
Here are some other facts about Carlos Santana:
Drafted: None—he signed as an amateur free agent with the Dodgers in 2005.
Minor League Stats
2005 Rookie: .295 with one HR, a .412 OBP, and an .823 OPS in 32 games
2006 Rookie & High Single A: .282 with 10 HR’s, a .379 OBP, and an .816 OPS in 91 games
2007 Single A: .223 with seven HR’s, a .318 OBP, and a .688 OPS in 86 games
2008 High Single A & Double A: .326 with 21 HR’s, a .431 OBP, and a .999 OPS in 130 games
2009 Double A: .290 with 23 HR’s, a .413 OBP, and a .943 OPS in 130 games
2010 Triple A: .316 with 13 HR’s, a .447 OBP, and a 1.044 OPS in 57 games
Keith Law Ranking and Analysis
Ranking: No. 3 out of 100 best prospects in baseball in 2010
Analysis: “Santana could be the Victor Martinez who can actually catch—a switch-hitter with legitimate plate discipline and power with good receiving skills and an above-average arm. Cleveland swiped Santana from the Dodgers in the Casey Blake deal because they were willing to send L.A. the $2 million required to pay Blake’s salary the rest of the way; in other words, they paid roughly what the ninth or 10th pick in a typical Rule 4 draft gets and ended up with the third-best prospect in baseball, a return on investment that Indians GM Mark Shapiro probably would take eight days a week.
At the plate, Santana does start his hands a little deep, but he uses that to create great leverage in his swing as he explodes from his loaded position to the ball, with both hard contact and good loft when he squares a pitch up—something he does quite often with an approach one Cleveland executive called “selective-aggressive,” meaning Santana works the count but is more than happy to jump on a pitch he can hit early in an at-bat. He’s a good athlete and runs well for a backstop.
Santana has good hands behind the plate and arm strength, and he has shown progress in the one deficiency in his catching, his ability to handle a staff and work with pitchers. Lou Marson might be the starting catcher this April in Cleveland, but the job should be Santana’s by September.”
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