When the Indians originally acquired catching prospect Carlos Santana from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Casey Blake deal, Santana was said to be the next Victor Martinez. He even wears Victor's old number, 41.
Thus far, the trade made by General Manager Mark Shapiro has seemed to be one of the better moves he has made in recent years. It certainly wasn't a ‘get Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee and Brandon Phillips from the Expos' type deal, but the Indians now have a catcher for the future.
In just his first Major-League start Friday against the Nationals, Santana hit third in coach Manny Acta's batting order. That's high praise right out of the gate.
Maybe not quite the attention of a certain Stephen Strasburg, but it's worthy of being noticed.
And in just his second game in the majors, Carlos recorded not only his first hit, but his first home run as well in back to back at bats. His first two hits were for extra bases.
Through Sunday, he is 3 for 11, but slugging .636. That's about 350 points higher then the guy he replaced, Lou Marson, who is now in Triple-A Columbus. Marson had one home run in 141 plate appearances; it took Santana only about five at bats to get his first dinger, and his second will probably come sooner as well.
Funny thing about Santana, is that even though he is said to have a catcher's build, which he does, he used to be an infielder. So how did he manage that when his biggest con is that he struggles with his hand work on the exchange? That blows my mind.
Perhaps his powerful arm made up for it. Who knows.
When you compare Santana to Martinez, they have a lot in common; not just the same number. They both switch hit. The Indians have three switch hitters on the entire team, including Trevor Crowe, Anderson Hernandez, and of course Santana. And guess who is the most highly touted of the three?
Santana is a bit smaller than Martinez at a pudgy 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds. Victor is 6-foot-2, 210 pounds but looks more like an athlete; hence Victor can also play first base.
I am not sure if Santana will ever be able to do that. He doesn't have much range, and he isn't that big of a target. But at one point, I think every catcher has been rumored to switch positions to save their knees, Joe Mauer being the most recent rumored to swap to another spot on the field.
One thing we know for sure about this kid Santana is that he can hit. Manny Acta knew that also, batting him in the three spot in his Major League debut, a spot where commonly your best hitter is placed.
Overall, Santana seems pretty raw at this point; usually most rookies kind of are. But it seems that the effort and the will to improve are there for this kid, and that will only make him better down the road.
Ever since the Tribe traded Martinez to Boston, they haven't played very well. Period. You always need a good back stop in order to contend with the big dogs.
Now, they may just have one of a few missing pieces to get them back to where they were in 2007. That is, if he doesn't get mauled by Adum Dunn again. Welcome to the bigs Carlos!