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Updated: February 25th, 2013 12:01pm
Danny Santana is 'a legitimate shortstop candidate for the future'

Danny Santana is 'a legitimate shortstop candidate for the future'

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Minnesota Twins shortstop Danny Santana has virtually zero chance to crack the 25-man roster out of camp. He has never played a game above Single-A, and there are at least four guys with major league experience ahead of him on the depth chart.

But Santana is "a legitimate shortstop candidate for the future," general manager Terry Ryan said Sunday.

The Twins have been looking for a shortstop of the future since letting their last shortstop of the future, Cristian Guzman, walk to the Washington Nationals in 2005. Guzman went on to hit .282/.317/.389 in five years with the Nationals while the Twins cycled through everyone from Juan Castro and Jason Bartlett to J.J. Hardy and Tsuyoshi Nishioka.

The sure-handed Pedro Florimon is likely to start the season at shortstop this year, but he is 26 years old with no sustainable offensive success at any level. And with Jamey Carroll turning 39 earlier this month, Brian Dozier moving to second base for the foreseeable future and Eduardo Escobar likely projecting as a utility man long-term, the "shortstop of the future" job appears to be wide open.

The Twins signed the 22-year-old Santana as a 17-year-old out of Monte Plata, Dominican Republic in December, 2007. It took him a while to figure things out offensively, but Santana broke out in 2012, hitting .286/.329/.410 with 38 extra-base hits and 17 stolen bases in 121 games for High-A Fort Myers.

"He's a bag full of skills," Ryan said. "He's got all kinds of ability and athleticism, now it's just a matter of consistency. He can do about everything. He's a switch-hitter, he can run, he can steal a base. He can hit a ball over the fence on occasion. He can play second, he can play short."

Defensively, Santana is said to have a big arm and wide range, but there are "questions about finishing a play," as Ryan put it.

For example, in Sunday's intrasquad game, Santana, playing shortstop, made an extraordinary backhanded, sprawling stab on a bad-hop ball, then short-hopped first baseman Drew Butera, who was unable to come up with the scoop.

"He made a fantastic catch, and then he didn't finish," Ryan said. "And those are some of the things we need to iron out."

The Twins added Santana to the 40-man roster earlier this offseason, so his clock has begun to tick. Expect him to start the year at Double-A New Britain.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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