Beanpot Posted November 1, 2008 Report Share Posted November 1, 2008 Nice write up on the young catcher. Looks like the organization wants to keep him there, too. The kid can hit. 10/31/08 10:00 AM ET Santana slugs way to MiLBY Tribe catching prospect weathers trade by driving in runs By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com What a difference a year makes. In 2007, Carlos Santana hit .223 in 86 games for Class A Great Lakes, the Dodgers' affiliate in the Midwest League. Nevertheless, he was promoted to the California League to start the 2008 season and responded by hitting .323 with 14 homers and 96 RBIs in 99 games for Class A Advanced Inland Empire. Then, the 22-year-old catcher was traded to the Indians in the Casey Blake deal and actually hit better in the pitcher-friendly Carolina League (.352 in 29 games). Combined, the switch-hitter batted .326 with 21 homers, 117 RBIs and a .999 OPS in 130 games, making him the clear winner of this year's MiLBY for Best Class A Advanced Hitter. "What a great year he had," Kinston manager Chris Tremie said of Santana in one of the bigger understatements of the season. Santana led the Minor Leagues with 125 runs scored while ranking second in RBIs. He posted a .431 combined on-base percentage, good for eighth overall, and his .568 slugging percentage would have led the Carolina League and been second in the California League had he received enough at-bats to qualify. All this from a guy who had a .688 OPS in 2007. "I've got more confidence and more concentration at the plate," Santana told the Kinston Free Press. "I've been a good hitter since I started my professional career, but you've got those years like that. You can have a bad year, and the next year you come with more preparation and more confidence. I worked hard in the offseason and tried to do my best, and right now it's showing. "I was a good hitter. I didn't change anything this year. I just came to play ball, and I've had some success." Santana isn't alone in that assessment. Those who saw his development from the time he signed with the Dodgers out of the Dominican Republic to this spring, when he spent the first half of the 2008 season with Inland Empire, were very impressed. "His offseason -- from instructional league to the start of the 2008 season -- he was a completely different guy," said a source close to the Dodgers organization. "His work ethic was solid and his approach was more solid. His work with the hitting coordinator and then the coach in Inland Empire was more intense and concentrated. That gave him the opportunity to put a solid season together." It's also a testament to the 22-year-old Santana, who has been described as a natural leader, that he didn't flinch when he was traded, abruptly changing organizations, leagues and time zones from California to Kinston, N.C. "Carlos adjusted extremely well, thanks in part to the hard work of our scouting department and then that of Chris Tremie, Julio Rangel (Cultural Development Coordinator) and Tim Laker (catching coordinator)," Indians farm director Ross Atkins said. "All of whom worked hard to expedite communication and help Carlos feel comfortable. "What was overriding in allowing for a smooth transition was that he is exceptionally gifted as a competitor and a hitter. He has great pitch recognition and a powerful, confident swing, which allows for hard, consistent contact from both sides of the plate. He fits perfectly into our system and is immediately one of the more exciting players that we have." Santana showed plenty of ability from both sides of the plate, hitting .320 left-handed and .360 from the right side. His arrival in the Kinston lineup on July 28 gave the K-Tribe two eventual league most valuable players. Santana earned California League honors despite missing the final month of the season, and his new teammate, Beau Mills, was named Carolina League MVP. "He's good. It's that simple," Mills said of Santana. "He's aggressive at the plate and he has a plan. He wants to hit the ball hard every time. He put up some numbers and was a big asset to the team at the time." Other players might have struggled after being traded from the team that had signed and developed them for four years. but Santana hit the ground running and quickly realized that the deal might be a great opportunity for his career. "It's part of the business," Santana said when he got to Kinston. "I was surprised, sure, because I started my professional career with the Dodgers. I need to find the fastest way to get to the big leagues, and this is probably going to be the fastest way." Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. Beanpot Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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