The wait is over for the Cleveland Indians’ top prospect
The Cleveland Indians called up their top prospect, Francisco Lindor, last night. Lindor, the eighth overall pick in the 2011 draft, is expected to fit into the lineup today against the Detroit Tigers. He will presumably replace the plug of Zach Walters and Mike Aviles.
There is no doubting the talent that the 21-year-old will bring, as he is a consensus top-ten prospect, with MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus rating him as the fourth-best prospect entering the year. As with many top prospects, keeping Lindor’s financial cost low is a huge consideration. By waiting until mid-June to call up the switch-hitter, the Indians have likely avoided letting Lindor become a Super Two.
Lindor is hitting .279 in Triple-A Columbus so far this season, and his .346 on-base percentage is well above average. His wRC+ of 117 suggests that his bat is indeed big league ready. Even more promising is his wRC+ of 128 in the past month. Over the same time span, he has batted .306 with a surprisingly high slugging percentage – for a defensively minded player – of .441.
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The shortstop brings a different profile to the Cleveland Indians, as he is regarded more for his glove than his bat, and FanGraphs’ scouting report of the youngster grades the future values of his speed, fielding, and throwing as a 60 on the 20-80 scale. Lindor’s glove will likely be a breath of fresh air for a position that has allowed the fourth-most errors and the second worst UZR/150 in the American League.
It is expected that Lindor will be able to hold his own at the plate, but he may not bring much power to the lineup. He should also be able to provide plenty of speed on the base paths, as he has swiped over 20 bags each year since 2012. He has, however, been caught stealing seven times this season, which is almost as often as his nine stolen bases.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for Lindor will be blocking out all the hype and focusing on playing well. Many past prospects, such as Matt LaPorta and Andy Marte, never really panned out for the Tribe after being pegged as the future of the franchise. Sometimes all the hype and expectations can be too much for a player, and they don’t live up to the anticipation. If Lindor can focus on his on-field performance and stay healthy, it is a reasonable expectation for him to be a mainstay in the Indians’ infield for years to come.