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- Bats Both, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 188 lb.
Originally signed out of the Dominican Republic by scout Andres Lopez for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2004, Santana was traded to the Indians along with Jon Meloan on July 26, 2008 in return for 3B Casey Blake. While he had already been considered a prospect before that year, he took a huge step forward in 2008, hitting .326 in 130 games between three teams, playing almost exclusively in Class A ball. It was not an empty batting average, either, as he banged out 39 doubles and 21 homers, drove in 117 runs and drew 89 walks. He was named the California League MVP after the season.
In 2009, he spent a full season in AA with the Akron Aeros of the Eastern League and hit .290, again showing excellent power (30 2B and 23 HR). He played in the Futures Game that year. By then he was near the top of all minor league prospect lists, and started right where he had left off when promoted to AAA Columbus to start 2010. He hit .316 in 57 games, with 14 doubles and 13 homers, for a batting line of .316/.447/.597.
With nothing left to prove in the minor leagues, Santana was promoted to Cleveland in early June, 2010. After going hitless in his major league debut, his bat came alive, and after 9 games, he was hitting .393 with 5 doubles and 2 homers, seemingly finding major league hurlers no more challenging than his opponents over the previous three seasons in the bushes. Overall, he hit .260/.401/.467 in 46 games, but his season ended with an injury suffered on August 2 in a collision at home plate with the Boston Red Sox's Ryan Kalish.
On April 3, 2011, making his first career start at first base against the Chicago White Sox, Santana started a triple play by diving to catch a bunt popped along the first base line by Alexei Ramirez; both baserunners, Carlos Quentin and A.J. Pierzynski, were running on the play and were doubled off easily when Santana relayed to 2B Orlando Cabrera, covering first base, who in turn lazily flipped the ball to SS Asdrubal Cabrera who was standing on second base while Quentin did not even attempt to return.
Santana had a very unusual batting line in the first two months of the 2014 season. On May 27th, he was leading the American League in walks with 43 and had managed 7 doubles and 6 homers, but his batting average was an awful .159. He did lead the AL in walks with 113 at the end of the year, but also improved some of his other numbers, with a .231 batting average, 25 doubles, 27 homers and 85 RBIs in 152 games. Thanks to all the walks, his OBP was a solid .365 and his OPS+ 127.
- 2008 MVP California League Inland Empire 66ers
- 2009 MVP Eastern League Akron Aeros
- AL Bases on Balls Leader (2014)
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 5 (2011, 2013, 2014, 2016 & 2017)
- 30-Home Run Seasons: 1 (2016)
- Andrew Simon: "Santana brings history of consistency to Phillies: Durability, on-base skills, solid glove should not be overlooked", mlb.com, December 16, 2017.