Indians stud prospect Carlos Santana homers twice in Triple-A debut

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Part of the reason why the Indians were willing to trade both Victor Martinez and Kelly Shoppach last season is that they have stud catching prospect Carlos Santana waiting in the wings at Triple-A.
Acquired from the Dodgers in mid-2008 as part of the Casey Blake deal, Santana was initially expected to begin this season on the disabled list because of a broken hamate bone in right hand suffered while playing winter ball. Instead, he celebrated his 24th birthday last night by going 4-for-5 with two homers and a double in the Triple-A opener.
For now Lou Marson is Cleveland’s starting catcher and at just 24 years old he’s a solid enough prospect in his own right, but when Santana is ready the Indians won’t hesitate to clear a path for him and that time may be right around the corner.
Prior to his big Triple-A debut Santana played 133 games at Double-A, hitting .289 with a .409 on-base percentage thanks to an outstanding 90/85 K/BB ratio. He also smacked 25 homers and 30 doubles in just 440 at-bats for a .536 slugging percentage. Toss in good defense behind the plate from a 24-year-old switch-hitter and Santana is one of the best and perhaps most underrated prospects in all of baseball.
If he can avoid a setback with the hand injury my guess is that Santana will be in Cleveland to stay in the second half, so the Indians have a few months to determine whether Marson fits better as trade bait or a long-term backup.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.