Could the Cleveland Indians top prospect Francisco Lindor – No. 9 in this years Baseball America Top 100 – possibly break camp with the Tribe? Chances are highly unlikely. But Non-Roster Invitees are there for one reason, and one reason only. To make the ballclub. So it can’t be counted out completely.
But what would it take?
Since being drafted eighth overall in the 2011 June MLB Amatuer Draft, Lindor has slowly been creeping up the respected prospects lists. His position varies, as high as No. 4, low at No. 14. But what isn’t in doubt is his potential. Unless the baseball world have all misjudged him, Lindor will be a key piece of the Tribe’s future.
Last season, between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus, he posed a slash of .276/.338/.389. He hit 11 home runs, knocked in 62 while stealing 28 bases. With only 38 games at the Triple-A level, the Indians are in no hurry to promote the talented youngster.
On top of being patient with Lindor, Jose Ramirez – only 22 himself – has impressed coaches enough that they don’t feel the need to rush the former first-round pick to the Majors.
So is there anything he can do to make the case for a roster spot out of Spring Training? Even if Lindor does indeed produce eye-popping numbers in Goodyear, it would take several injuries to others to allow him to make the trip to Cleveland.
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Mike Aviles is the super utilityman every manager loves to have, and Terry Francona will use him all over the field. Aviles may play as many as five positions, but that’s only to be the case in desperate times. When healthy, this 2015 Indians team has plenty of talent, and bringing Lindor up before he’s ready shouldn’t be necessary.
But baseball is a game full of surprises. Ideally he’ll get a little taste here in Spring Training, then some seasoning in Columbus. Barring any issues, we’ll hopefully see him in late August helping the Tribe battle for the postseason. Worst case, we see him in September for late season call ups.
It’s not a matter of “if” he’ll be in Cleveland this year, only a matter of when.