- Full name Carlos Santana
- Born 04/08/1986 in Santo Domingo Centro, Dominican Republic
- Profile Ht.: 5'11" / Wt.: 215 / Bats: S / Throws: R
- Debut 06/11/2010
Organization Prospect Rankings
After signing with the Dodgers for $75,000 in 2004, Santana spent his first two seasons playing third base and the outfield. He made the transition to catcher during instructional league after the 2006 season, then broke out with an MVP season in the high Class A California League. Los Angeles traded Santana and Jonathan Meloan to the Indians that July in a deadline deal for third baseman Casey Blake, agreeing to send a higher-quality prospect if Cleveland covered the roughly $2 million remaining on Blake's contract. Santana added another MVP trophy last season in the Double-A Eastern League . The only negative for Santana came while playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic, where he broke the hamate bone in his right hand and had surgery in early December. He should be ready by the start of spring training. Santana has a bat that would fit nicely at any position, making it a premium bat for a catcher. Showing the ability to draw walks at a high clip, Santana is selectively aggressive, not offering at pitches he can't handle on the edges and taking an aggressive swing at pitches in his zone. He has good balance at the plate and generally shows a compact swing. Though he's not a big catcher like Victor Martinez, Santana maximizes his swing from top to bottom to generate plus power from both sides of the plate. He uses a leg lift to incorporate his lower half into his swing. He has above-average bat speed and strong hands, and he gets late acceleration through the zone with his wrists. Santana is a solid defensive catcher, with an arm that gets plus grades or better, accuracy and a quick release. He threw out 30 percent of basestealers last year. His athleticism also helps his agility behind the dish. Santana's swing gets long at times and he's still learning how to keep it under control. His stride can get him caught out on his front foot, and some EL observers questioned his ability to turn on hard stuff inside. His receiving skills have made progress, though as a converted catcher he still needs additional seasoning. Santana has the physical tools to be an above-average defensive catcher, but he's still learning nuances such as game management. After Santana finished with Akron, the Indians brought him to Cleveland--not to play but to be a part of pregame meetings and sit in the stands behind home plate with their advance scouts . He's a below-average runner. With the Indians trading Martinez to the Red Sox last July and shipping Kelly Shoppach to the Rays in December, the door is open for Santana to take over in Cleveland at some point in 2010. His injury might set back his timetable, but he likely would have started the season at Triple-A Columbus regardless. He should be the Indians' full-time catcher by 2011 and has the potential to be a perennial all-star.
The Dodgers signed Santana out of the Dominican Republic for $75,000 in 2004, and he split time between third base and the outfield in his first two pro seasons. Los Angeles has had success converting position players into catchers, most notably Russell Martin, and they had Santana make the transition during instructional league following the 2006 season. In his first season catching, Santana hit just .223/.318/.370 at low Class A Great Lakes, though he had nearly as many walks (40) as strikeouts (45). In 2008 he led the high Class A California League with a .993 OPS and won league MVP honors despite getting traded on July 26. The Dodgers wanted Casey Blake to fill a hole at third base, but they also didn't want to pick up any of the roughly $2 million remaining on his contract. In return for paying Blake's remaining salary, the Indians were able to increase their return, getting Santana along with righthander Jon Meloan. Santana didn't slow down after switching organizations, destroying high Class A pitching for a month with Kinston. He received a late-season promotion for Double-A Akron's playoff run, though a minor groin strain kept him mostly on the bench. Santana has shown good strike-zone discipline ever since signing with the Dodgers. He swings aggressively at strikes and routinely squares up balls with authority, using his lower half well and getting good extension. He has a good two-strike approach and doesn't chase pitches outside the strike zone. He should hit for a high average and OBP with average power. He's more athletic than most catchers. Though he still has work to do behind the plate, Santana has good defensive tools. He moves well and has a strong arm. Most of Santana's improvement must come behind the plate, and he's still learning the nuances of catching. He sometimes lacks accuracy with his throws and erased 27 percent of basestealers. After committing 20 passed balls in 67 games in 2007, he cut that number to 14 in 106 contests last season, but he still needs to get better. He also led Cal League catchers with 16 errors in 80 games. Balls down and in to his glove side can give him trouble and he must get smoother receiving balls on the outer half, as he tends to get stiff-wristed at times. He's making progress blocking balls but that's another skill he's still working on. He understands English well but doesn't yet speak the language comfortably. Santana usually has a good stoke at the plate, but he can get too long with his swing and too wild with his feet at times. He's a below-average runner, though an occasional threat to steal. Kelly Shoppach's big year means that the Indians won't have to rush Santana, who will begin 2009 on a prospect-laden Akron club. He has all the ingredients to become an all-star catcher and could reach Cleveland by the end of 2010.
After spending most of 2006 in the Ogden outfield, Santana joined Lucas May in converting to catcher during instructional league following that season. Like Dodgers all-star Russell Martin, who moved from third base, May and Santana are both athletes with agility and flexibility, which bodes well for their longterm futures behind the plate. Santana's bat is behind May's, but he's a better receiver and projects as a better all-around defender. He has good hands and quick lateral movement, with a real knack for blocking balls. Santana has a plus arm and clean release, helping him erase 38 percent of basestealers in his first season behind the dish. A switch-hitter with fair bat speed, Santana doesn't project to hit for a high average, but he can sting balls from gap to gap and could develop average power. His swing gets long and he tends to work around the ball rather than through it. He shows some feel for the strike zone and consistently puts the ball in play, but he just doesn't do it with the impact May does. A switch-hitter, Santana batted just .213 versus righthanders last year. He'll advance to high Class A.
Dodgers scouting chief Logan White encourages his scouts to target potential conversion candidates during evaluation, and Santana and third baseman Lucas May both spent time behind the plate during instructional league last fall. Santana showed passable catch-andthrows skills in his audition at catcher, and his bat also could make him an interesting prospect. Despite having just 78 minor league at-bats under his belt, he went to high Class A in May and hit safely in nine of his first 10 games and held his own all season. He then reported to Rookie-level Ogden, where he spent most of the summer manning right field to make room for Josh Bell at third base. He's athletic but his baseball acumen is limited. He uses his hands well at the plate and has above-average bat speed and good plate coverage. He maintains his balance better from the right side. His swing has some length. His lateral quickness, hands and instincts are pluses. He showed a solid-average arm behind the plate. He's a fringe-average runner. Santana could spend 2007 at Los Angeles' new low Class A Great Lakes affiliate.
Minor League Top Prospects
Santana is the total package, presenting a premium bat and solid defensive skills. IL managers rated him the league's best hitting and power prospect. A switch-hitter, he has a generally short stroke and good balance from both sides of the plate, consistently squaring up balls. He had no problems adjusting to major league pitching and would have contended for American League rookie of the year honors had a knee injury not ended his season in early August. "He's an aggressive hitter who is very selective," Columbus manager Mike Sarbaugh said, "and he's very good at attacking balls that are in his zone." Originally signed as a third baseman by the Dodgers, Santana has learned a lot about catching in the last four years. He has improved his receiving, blocking and game-calling ability, and he always has had a plus arm. He committed just one passed ball in 45 games and threw out 23 percent of basestealers.
Santana was a fairly easy choice as the EL's MVP after ranking second in home runs, RBIs and OBP while leading the league in slugging and walks. He also has an ideal profile as a switch-hitting catcher with patience, power and defensive ability. A scout with a National League club called Santana's throwing arm "the best in the league," grading it a 70 on the 20-80 scale, and he threw out 30 percent of opposing baserunners and is agile behind the plate, though his receiving skills need polish. One manager went so far as to call him sloppy. Offensively, Santana will have to show he can handle being pitched inside, as some managers noted he was more apt to spin away from those pitches, trying to get a call, rather than turning on those pitches. But he has above-average power from both sides of the plate, though it's primarily pull power. His pitch recognition puts him in hitter's counts consistently, and as Reading manager Steve Roadcap said, "When he gets his pitch, he puts a serious, aggressive swing on it. He's aggressive and patient at the same time. "He's very good from both sides, but showed a little more pop from the right side. You're talking about a switch-hitting catcher with power and a plus arm. He is a special player."
Converted to catching after the 2006 season, Santana made a swift defensive transition last year but raised questions about his bat by hitting .223 in low Class A. Consider those questions answered after he led the Cal League with a .431 on-base percentage and a .993 OPS. He won league MVP honors despite playing in just 99 games before getting traded to the Indians in the Casey Blake deal. Santana proved himself a threat with the bat from both sides of the plate, and scouts think he could hit 15-20 homers a year in the majors as he grows into his power. Managers loved his swing and said they couldn't find a way to consistently get him out. He has the tools to be a strong catcher, though he's still rough around the edges. He had good agility and athleticism but rushes himself at times. He also has a well-above-average arm but needs to improve his accuracy after throwing out 23 percent of basestealers.
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Power Prospect in the International League in 2010
- Rated Best Batting Prospect in the International League in 2010
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the Cleveland Guardians in 2010
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the Cleveland Guardians in 2010
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the Eastern League in 2009
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the California League in 2008
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the California League in 2008