Sooooo, what now? We are trying to return to some normalcy here at the Lake Erie Soldiers after an extended hiatus due to my college graduation and subsequent marriage, which put a halt on all our free time. But what a great time to return! Carlos Santana made his major league debut finally! Stephen Strasburg became one of the best pitchers in baseball immediately upon his arrival in the Majors, and subsequently destroyed the Indians and halted all momentum they had gained off of a 4 game winning streak. The World Cup got under way and the United States pulled a lucky, shocking tie against soccer heavyweight England. The Cleveland Browns reached agreements on 1 year tenders with 5 restricted free agents, D’Qwell Jackson and my favorite player, Lawrence Vickers. So what is the point of this article, the first I have written in like 2 and a half months or so? Well simply put, Carlos Santana is awesome.
Just what has Big Smooth done since his call up the bigs? He has shown just why he is one of the most touted prospects in baseball. He’s not batting .500 or hitting 2 home runs a game, but what he is doing is something this team needs. He has the patience and hitting ability of a seasoned veteran. Despite his youth and inexperience at the big league level, he is calm and cool at the plate, and has impressed everyone with that poise and skill. Just in his first 3 games I saw him take about 4 or 5 pitches that no one on the Indians team would even think about not swinging at. He has an uncanny ability to see the ball out of the pitcher’s hand and recognize pitch location before his mind tells his body to swing. Hopefully this skill rubs off on some of the other Tribe hitters. Travis Hafner has also gotten hot of late, which is an encouraging sign, who knows, it might just make him tradable in late July… What is frustrating about Santana making his debut now, is that he hasn’t shown any signs yet of why the team was keeping him in AAA all year. Maybe, in the way this world is twisted and depressing, had Santana been with the team from the outset, our offense would have gotten out on a hotter start and the team would not be staring in the face of a 11 game deficit. Santana threw out the first guy who tried to test his arm behind the plate, and while 2 guys have stolen on him since, it has had a bit more to do with the pitchers than him. His bat is just as advertised.
I mentioned my astonishment at how patient and able he was to identify pitches, but his bat is equally as potent. Going into Tuesday’s game against the New York Mets, which would be his 4th, he was hitting .273. Nothing earth shattering, but he has a homer, double and a single, 2 runs, 3 rbi’s, 2 walks and no strikeouts (he struckout for the first time in his career Tuesday night against Johan Santana), he is slugging 636 and his OBP is .385. He chose to wore his idol’s jersey number, Victor Martinez’s #41. That is a bold move for a stud prospect, to pick the jersey number of the icon in a depressed city and tell the fans, look, Vic the Stick is gone, but I am here now. That says a lot about the young man’s confidence and his impending impact on the franchise. 3 games is a miniscule sample size to make a claim like that, but watching him play he gives me every bit of confidence that he will be the face of this franchise moving forward. Watching him play makes next year, and the rest of this season, seem less depressing. 2011 is still a cloudy image in my mind, but the potential of a team with Santana, a possibly healthy Grady Sizemore, Shin-Soo Choo, maybe Lonnie Chisenhall and Nick Weglarz, and maybe a few decent pitchers, is kind of fun to think about. Not only does Santana wear #41, his batting stance and approach at the plate is almost identical to that of Victor Martinez. The resemblance is striking, I Just hope that the team does not trade him away anytime soon, but he is already making the fans forget who wore that jersey before him. Santana seems like he is that rare kind of players that special things happen when he is on the diamond, and there is that special, rare, noise when the ball hits his bat.
So in a whirlwind weekend that saw the Indians take 2 of 3 from the visiting Strasbergs, Santana made his debut, got almost all of his Major League firsts out of the way, and the team won a series. He played almost flawless baseball, provided us with a laugh when he forgot where he was and got run over by Adam Dunn, and provided a glimpse into his bright future, that will hopefully brighten the future of the Indians organization. Carlos Santana is awesome.