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The Sport Editor's Desk

Santana among baseball's best youngsters

By Ron Published: February 18, 2011

Carlos Santana had his first season in the majors cut short by a knee injury, but he showed enough to be considered one of the best young players in the game. Sports Illustrated take a look at those players.
Ben Reiter, Sports Illustrated Last season occasioned an influx of young talent into Major League Baseball that was rare in its quality. In the National League alone, it included an outfielder elected to the All-Star Game (the Braves' Jason Heyward); a catcher who hit third in the lineup of the World Series champion (the Giants' Buster Posey); a starting pitcher who finished fourth in the league in ERA (the Cardinals' Jamie Garcia); and a slugger who ranked fifth in the league in at-bats per home run (the Marlins' Mike Stanton).
This year's crop of burgeoning stars will likely not equal 2010's, as few do. "Everybody was talking about that group even during spring training last year -- the Stantons, the Heywards, the Poseys, the Garcias," says Braves GM Frank Wren. "I don't get the sense that it's as high profile a group this year."
Not as high profile, perhaps, but potentially deeper. Leading the pack could be a 21-year-old, 6'5", 225-pound Californian whom the Braves selected in the second round of the 2007 draft, 64 spots after they picked Heyward, who would quickly become his best friend and roommate: first baseman Freddie Freeman, who enters spring as perhaps the only rookie position player with a starting spot all but locked down. "We have every confidence that he'll be our Opening Day first baseman," says Wren.



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