Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF): Legit defensive tools and some natural hitting ability could make him an everyday shortstop.
The Player: Francisco Lindor (SS, Cleveland Indians) – The first round pick of the Indians last summer, Lindor signed at the August deadline and did not make his formal professional debut in 2011
Body: Wiry with some natural strength. Athletic body with good proportion and room to add strength as he matures. Doesn’t project to thicken up in the upper or lower half long term.
Makeup: Area scouts that saw Lindor in his school routinely rave about his work ethic. He was frequently noted as one of the first players at the ball park and one of the last to leave, earning the “baseball rat” moniker from more than one scout. He takes the positives and negatives in stride.
Hit: Smooth, level swing from both sides of the plate. He makes decent contact on good fastballs and will use the entire field to his advantage. Struggles with pitch recognition at times but has the hand-eye coordination to adjust to pitches. Rarely chased outside of the zone in high school, will have to adjust to consistently good breaking balls as a pro. Should hit for average from both sides throughout his career. Grade – 30/60
Power: Lacks present strength and doesn’t have any loft in his swing from either side of the plate. Will line the ball to both gaps at times but level swing is more conducive to hard line drives than true home run power. Should improve some and rack up doubles as he adds strength. Grade (raw power) – 20/40
Arm: Consistently shows a plus arm with the ability to make throws in the hole and on the run behind the bag. Adjusts arm angles well and can throw on the run from any position. Will occasionally show plus-plus arm when feet are set and he can get behind it. Grade – 60/60
Fielding: Shows polished instincts, first step, footwork, range and hands for a high schooler. Reads the ball extremely well off the bat and can move laterally to both sides with ease. True shortstop actions and little doubt he can stick at the position. Will make the spectacular play with regularity and routinely makes the easy plays look easy. Grade – 60/70
Speed: Above-average home-to-first times but not a burner.Gets out of the box much better from the left side. Uses speed in the field to add to plus range. Body type should allow him to maintain his speed long term. Grade – 50/50
Summation: The rare high school shortstop that legitimately projects to stay at the position. His entire defensive game works right now and should only improve as he gets used to the speed of the pro game. Does well as a young switch hitter and should continue to hit from both sides. Outstanding makeup helps his tools play to their maximum on the field. Should be a big leaguer with relative ease and has a chance to be a very good everyday shortstop on a championship level club.
Relative Risk: Moderate. Defense-first profile and modest offensive ceiling give him a higher likelihood of reaching his ceiling. Will need to move a level at a time to allow bat to develop but carries far less risk than many first round high school position players.
Future: The Indians have indicated that Lindor will likely make his official pro debut with Lake County in the Midwest League in 2012. He will most likely spend the entire season with the club before possibly getting a late season taste of High-A to prepare him for the 2013 season. The shortest big league time table he would likely be on would be a mid-season call up in 2015.