Cleveland needs a new favorite son after their old one hightailed it to glitzy Miami on an hourlong nationally televised special. The Indians, fortunately, have several players who will be Cleveland property for the next six years, at least, and have what it takes to make the city forget about the whole LeBron debacle.
Most baseball fans already know the first player I’m thinking of. Regular readers are well aware of my excitement about Buster Posey and what he means to the Giants’ organization. However, when we look back on 2010 five years from now, Posey may not even be the best catcher in his own rookie class. Carlos Santana made his debut on June 11, and though his short season was ended early by a left knee injury and subsequent surgery, he should be available for the start of Spring Training. There’s only so much one can learn about injuries in baseball without actually having access to team sources, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Indians decided to take a less aggressive path with Santana’s rehabilitation, making sure his knee is healed fully, as they’ve got nothing to play for in 2010 and the future of their organization rests largely on the knees (and bat) of Santana. A switch-hitter with loads of pop, Santana hit for an ISO of .281 in 246 AAA plate appearances before his call-up this year, after an ISO of .241 in 535 games at AA last year. Santana slugged .597 before his call-up this year, while getting on base at a high clip. Indians fans have a right to be excited about this kid, as switch-hitting bomb threats don’t show up very often, especially behind the plate. I’m not allowed to have a favorite Dodger, but unofficially mine is Casey Blake, because every time he comes to bat I get to remind myself that the Dodgers don’t have Santana, who was traded for Blake at the 2008 deadline.
The other potential franchise cornerstone for the Indians currently resides at the hot corner for the Indians AA affiliate. Lonnie Chisenhall may not sound familiar to you, but he’s been on prospect junkies’ watchlists for quite a while now. Chisenhall, 22, is a third baseman with a good glove and maybe the most enjoyable swing to watch in all of the minors. Maybe it’s just me, but when Chisenhall brings the bat through the zone, I can swear I hear angels singing. It’s that beautiful. Right now, he’s hitting a lot of doubles and a good smattering of home runs in double A. I’d expect some of that doubles power to turn into home run potential. Expect Chisenhall and his sweet-swinging ways to reach Cleveland within the next two years, and look for him to hit the ground running when he does. With an offensive game as fundamentally sound as his is, Chisenhall’s transition from top prospect to big-league regular shouldn’t take long.
Check back tomorrow, when we’ll be taking a look at the disappointing Chicago Cubs and a pitching staff that hasn’t quite gotten what it deserves.