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Backstops to the future

Indians' Santana, Nationals' Norris among top catching prospects to watch

Updated: August 19, 2009, 1:08 PM ET
By Jason Grey | ESPN.com
Buster Posey gets a lot of hype as the best catching prospect in the minor leagues, and deservedly so. However, Carlos Santana and Derek Norris are a couple of other backstops with offensive potential who bear close watching in the future.

Carlos Santana, C, Indians: Originally a third baseman/outfielder when he was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2004, the 23-year-old Santana converted to catching after the 2006 season, and had his breakout season last year, hitting .326 with 21 homers and 89 walks against 85 strikeouts, mostly in Class A. Promoted to Double-A this year, he's picked up right where he left off, batting .290 with 20 homers and 75 walks against 72 strikeouts for a .952 OPS.

The switch-hitter has clearly demonstrated his good plate discipline, and packs a lot of juice in his 5-foot-11 frame. His bat speed is just average, but he makes up for it with a short stroke, consistently getting the barrel of the bat on the ball when he makes contact. He lets it rip and uses his upper-body strength when he sees something good, yet has also showed he can shorten up even further with two strikes and cover the plate well. His swing does get a little long when he tries to force the power, and on those occasions, he can be beaten inside on both sides of the plate. It's also worth noting he's much better against left-handed pitchers.

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