Nov 2, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; Cleveland Indians outfielder Tyler Naquin against the East during the Fall Stars Game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Francisco Lindor and Tyler Naquin Headline Minor League Invites
As we draw closer to the start of Spring Training, we’re beginning to get a better picture for who will be competing for spot on the big league roster this season.
In addition to the lengthy list of free agents that have been signed to low risk minor league deals with spring training invites, the Indians will also take a long hard look at a number of minor league prospects this Spring. Actually, they will take a look at six minor leaguers, to be more specific.
Headlining the list of minor league prospect invites to big league camp are two of the Indians top five prospects. Shortstop Francisco Lindor, the #1 prospect in the organization, and outfielder Tyler Naquin, the #4 or #5 prospect depending on who you believe, will each take a shot at making the big league club. In addition to those two, the Indians will also invite three catchers, Tony Wolters, Roberto Perez, and Jake Lowery, and infielder, Joey Wendle.
As exciting as this may be, we must also be realistic. The odds of any of the three making the Indians opening day roster is somewhere between slim and none. Lindor and Naquin figure to have the best chances overall, but it would take some combination of injuries and a too good to be ignored type of performance for either to make the team. As for the other four minor leaguers, Wolters, Perez, and Lowery look to serve as depth, someone has to catch the late innings of spring training games, and for Wendle this may be a reward for being named the organization’s top position player among minor leaguers in 2013.
Shifting the focus back to Lindor and Naquin, they still look to be at least one more year away from making the big league club. With the outfield as loaded as it is right now with Michael Bourn, Michael Brantley, Ryan Raburn, David Murphy and the laundry list of free agents signed this offseason, Naquin figures to be pretty low on the totem pole.
For Lindor, it all comes down to his service time clock. The Indians will not do anything to jeopardize their control over Lindor and his future. The soonest we can expect to see him on the big league roster is in September as a call up. In 2015 there is the possibility that Lindor may be the opening day shortstop. However, we can’t rule out the Indians opting for a stop-gap for the first few months. Again, this would help delay his service time and keep him under team control longer.
In the meantime, we will have the opportunity to watch these six minor leaguers go up against other major league players. While it may seem insignificant, this does provide us with the opportunity to see how they each respond to the pressure and possibility, no matter how slim it may be, of making the Indians roster.