The Cleveland Indians are going with 24-year old switch hitting Carlos Santana at catcher in 2011. He played in 46 games for the Indians last season and he was 39 of 150 (.260 avg, .868 OPS) with 23 runs scored, 6 homers, 22 RBIs and 3 stolen bases. Santana also showed outstanding plate discipline for the Indians last season as he walked 37 times while whiffing 29 times last season for the Tribe. Santana should easily put up a .280+ batting average with 80 runs scored, 20 homers and 80 RBIs if he can stay healthy in 2011. Santana is still learning behind the plate as he made 3 errors and had 4 passed balls in only 40 games behind the plate. He did throw out 9 of 34 (26.5%) runners trying to steal against him last season and Indians’ pitchers had a 4.42 ERA with him behind the plate. Santana reminds me a lot of Victor Martinez except with a much better throwing arm. He is going to be a player for the Indians to build around.
24-year old righty swinging Lou Marson will get the first shot to back up Santana in 2011, but he will have to beat out Luke Carlin and Paul Phillips to win that job. Marson played in 87 games for the Indians last season and he was 51 of 262 (.195 avg, .560 OPS) with 29 runs scored, 3 homers, 22 RBIs and 8 stolen bases as he often looked overmatched at the plate. If he could hit .250, Marson would be an asset to the Indians because of his defense. Marson made 4 errors and he had 5 passed balls in 87 games behind the plate last season so he needs to improve a little bit there. But, he also threw out 26 of 82 runners trying to steal on him (31.7%) last season and Indians’ pitchers had a 4.33 ERA when throwing to him. Marson was part of the Indians’ “haul” for Cliff Lee so they hold he will win the backup job to Santanta this spring.
30-year old switch hitting Luke Carlin looked really good in his audition with the Indians last September. Carlin played in 6 games for the Indians last season and he was 5 of 14 (.357 avg, 1.223 OPS) with 4 runs scored, 2 homers and 3 RBIs. That was likely a mirage though as Carlin has a career average of .175 with a .553 OPS in 52 games in the majors. Carlin was outstanding defensively in his short time with the Tribe. He didn’t make any errors or have any passed balls in 6 games behind the plate for the Tribe last season. Carlin threw out 2 of 6 (33.3%) runners trying to steal on him last season and Indians’ pitchers had a 2.68 ERA in 37 innings with him behind the dish. Carlin will get a fair shot to win the backup job in 2011 during this spring.
33-year old righty swinging Paul Phillips was also signed to a minor league deal to compete for the backup catchers’ gig for the Indians in 2011. Phillips played in 12 games for the Rockies last season and he was 5 of 23 (.217 avg, .497 OPS) with 4 runs scored and 1 RBI. Phillips has played in 91 games in the majors and he has a career average of .262 with a .655 OPS. Phillips made 1 error but he didn’t have any passed balls in 10 games behind the plate for the Rockies last season. He was 0 for 1 throwing out baserunners trying to steal against him and Rockies’ pitchers had a 3.93 ERA with him behind the plate.
PROJECTED GRADE FOR CLEVELAND INDIANS CATCHERS IN 2011: B