Santana Earns Yet Another Honor

Carlos Santana ... among Topps' tops.

Catcher Carlos Santana, generally regarded as the top prospect in the Indians' minor-league system, was named the Player of the Year in the Class AA Eastern League by Topps. The baseball card company annually selects a most valuable player in each of the minor leagues. Santana won after batting .290 with 23 homers and 97 RBI to help the Akron Aeros win the EL championship in 2009.

Santana was officially named the Eastern League's MVP at the end of the season. The 23-year-old switch-hitter had 30 doubles, two triples and scored 91 runs. He led the league in slugging percentage (.530) and walks (90), was second in home runs, RBI and on-base percentage (.413), and third in runs.

Santana was an Eastern League mid and postseason all-star selection. The native of Venezuela played for the World Team in the Futures Game in St. Louis.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays each had two farmhands honored and 13 farm systems overall are represented.

One of the Tampa Bay players honored, outfielder Desmond Jennings, was drafted by the Indians, but did not sign with Cleveland. The Tribe picked him in the 18th round in 2005, but he also had a football scholarship to Alabama and turned down Cleveland's contract offers.

Jennings, a quarterback in high school, instead went to Itawamba (Miss.) Community College to try and pick up his grades. He switched to wide receiver and led the nation in receiving.

The Rays picked him in the 10th round in 2006 and he took their $150,000 signing bonus and has risen quickly through their farm system.

Jennings was among the Southern League leaders in batting average (.316), stolen bases (37), triples (8), on-base percentage (.395) and slugging percentage (.485) in 2009 despite playing only 100 games before being promoted to Triple-A Durham, where he batted .325 with 15 more steals in 32 games.

2009 TOPPS/MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS-OF-THE-YEAR
Player                 Club/Organization      Pos.  AVG  HR RBI
International League
Shelley Duncan         Scranton/W-B/NY-AL     OF   .277  30  99
Pacific Coast League
Randy Ruiz             Las Vegas/Toronto      1B   .320  25 106
Eastern League
Carlos Santana         Akron/Cleveland        C    .290  23  97
Southern League 
Desmond Jennings       Montgomery/Tampa Bay   OF   .316   8  45
Texas League
Chris Carter           Midland/Oakland        1B   .337  24 101
California League 
Alex Liddi             High Desert/Seattle    3B   .345  23 104
Carolina League
Brandon Waring         Frederick/Baltimore    1B   .273  26  90
Florida State League 
Austin Romine          Tampa/New York-AL      C    .276  13  72
Midwest League
Dee Gordon             Great Lakes/LA-NL      SS   .301   3  35
South Atlantic League
Jordan Pacheco         Asheville/Colorado     C    .322  13  79
New York-Penn League
Alexander Colome       Hudson Valley/TB       P (7-4, 1.66 ERA)
Northwest League
Drew Biery             Salem-Keizer/SF        3B   .326   6  48
Appalachian League 
Riaan Spanjer-Furstenburg Danville/Atlanta    1B   .359   8  53
Pioneer League
Brian Cavazos-Galvez   Ogden/LA-NL            OF   .322  18  63
Arizona League
Cody Decker           Padres/San Diego        1B   .354  15  63 
Gulf Coast League
Eury Perez            Nationals/Washington    OF   .381   3  24
(Statistics do not include what players did in other leagues in 2009.)

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