Daniel Santin: "I Definitely Want to Catch"

EVERETT, Wash. - In the Everett AquaSox world of short-season Single-A baseball, a player has to accept the concept of splitting time at his given position as a way of life. Nearly every player on Everett's roster has found himself in more than one place this season, either in the field or in the DH spot. And with a trio of power-hitting catchers at their disposal, the Sox have found themselves shuffling at that spot more than any other.

Recently, time behind the plate has been even harder to come by with Danny Santin finally settling into the role he was born to play.

Santin, who suffered from a sore arm in the first half of the season, spent the first half of the season as the team's day-to-day designated hitter, has been the team's primary designated hitter. In fact, during the first five weeks of the season, Santin caught only one game, June 26, against Spokane. Despite the time lost behind the plate, Santin has managed to put up some impressive offensive numbers (.294/.333/.412, 3 HR, 26 RBI 63 total bases).

"I definitely want to catch," says Santin. "[But] I love being in the lineup and if being a DH has me in the lineup and I can help my team win, that's great."

Perhaps part of the reason Santin has been able to achieve success on both offense and defense is because of his baseball roots. Santin's father is a major league scout for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays near Santin's hometown of Miami, Florida, and the younger Santin says that his father's guidance was a huge factor in propelling him towards a professional career in baseball.

"My dad was a huge asset in my development as a baseball player," he said. "[He's] who I worked with growing up and I was always around the game. He was a manager before he was a coach and everything I've known up to this point has come from him."

The combination of the elder Santin's coaching experience and young Santin's raw talent paid off big in 2004, Santin's first year in the minors. In 41 games, the then-18-year-old catcher hit .325/.384/.506 with four home runs and 28 RBI. Santin's performance was so good he was even promoted to Everett, spending three games there at the end of last season. His enthusiasm for the game has propelled him ever since.

"This is all I've ever wanted to do—to play baseball," said Santin. "I'm playing a game and I'm getting paid. Whether or not I'm getting paid good or not, I'm playing ball and I'm getting paid for it."

As for his chances of another promotion heading into next season, Santin doesn't spend much time worrying about it, though it is obviously one of his biggest goals. He has learned to take his father's advice and stay patient on the path to the bigs.

"That's something I can't control and can't worry about," says the young backstop. "I just have to worry about how I play, not where I play—that's what my dad has always preached to me."

Santin has also been endowed with a strong sense of loyalty—a trait sorely lacking in professional sports today. When asked if he has any aspirations of one day joining the Devil Rays organization with his father, Santin replies simply: "I'm a Mariner." Furthermore, Santin seems content to stay with the AquaSox for as long as they'll have him, saying he'd rather stay in Everett and play ball than move up to a higher place and find himself on bench duty.

"I'm not going to get any better, if my goal is to play in the big leagues, [by sitting out]," he said. "I'm not going to be able to do it if I'm not getting playing time."

If he can stay healthy and continue to add to the success he's already had, it's hard to imagine Santin sitting anywhere except behind the plate. As Everett's season draws to a close, Santin will be a big factor in the AquaSox drive for their first post-season title. Beyond that, it's not hard to imagine history repeating itself and Santin moving up to tackle yet another one of Seattle's minor league affiliates.

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