Is Carlos Santana the Indians' catcher of the future?

We know he's the catcher of the present, because this season we have seen him behind the plate 61 percent of the time. But will Santana continue to be the team's No. 1 catcher next year or five years from now?

We know the grand plan - albeit a little fuzzy around the edges - is for Santana to learn to play first base, which he has done on a semi-regular basis this year. Playing first saves his legs, helps avoid late-season fatigue and sets the stage for the time when he can transition to being a full-time first baseman to keep his bat in the lineup. But the parameters for that kind of move might be in the 10-year range (if Santana still is playing for the wealth-challenged Wahoos by then).

Of more immediate concern is Santana's competence as a catcher. If anything, he seems to have gone backward in his development.

There are a few gloomy numbers to make the point. In 2010, Santana's rookie year, he started 40 games at catcher before a serious knee injury led to surgery that ended his season. He threw out 35 percent of would-be base stealers and was behind the plate for 16 wild pitches, an average of one wild pitch every 2.5 games. He also committed three errors and had four passed balls.

This year, he has regressed in certain areas. In 70 starts behind the plate (through Wednesday), Santana has thrown out 22.9 percent of runners trying to steal and has seen 19 wild pitches elude him, an average of one every 3.7 games. He also has had four passed balls and six errors.

Only two players with at least 50 starts behind the plate have a lower percentage of runners thrown out, and even though Santana has the 14th most starts among American League catchers, he has committed the sixth most errors.