The Indians have selected prep SS Francisco Lindor with the eighth pick in the first round of the 2011 Major League Baseball First-Year Player draft. At 17 years of age, the scouting staff must like his ceiling and athleticism. Several mock drafts, most notably Kevin Goldstein's, had Lindor going one pick before the Tribe at seventh and prep pitcher out of Oklahoma Archie Bradley falling to the Indians. However, the Diamondbacks must have been concered about Lindor's signability and selected Bradley instead.
This was the only pick the Indians could have made at this spot. The farm system has been barren of shortstop talent and Lindor was the No. 1 high school prospect overall this season. He has been drawing comparisons to Omar Vizquel, both with his range and his batting. He will likely need three or four years in the minors but, at only 17, that is not a problem.
Since I have not seen him play personally, I must rely on what other scouts are saying about him:
Baseball America: "Lindor moved to the United States from Puerto Rico as a 12-year-old, and four years later he captained USA Baseball's 16U club to a gold-medal victory against Cuba in the World Youth Championship in Taiwan. A baseball rat, Lindor has tremendous work ethic to go with above-average tools, and he plays the game with ease and passion. He's a switch-hitter with a line-drive stroke from both sides of the plate, and he has excellent hands that work both at the plate and in the field. He has the tools to play shortstop well at the highest level, with smooth actions, fluidity, instincts and good fundamentals. He's a plus runner but not a burner. Lindor's power is the biggest question about him. He has flashed more than just gap power at times, which was pushing him up draft boards. His season ended in April, and he wasn't expected to play in Florida's high school all-star game, instead working out on his own. Scouts haven't scoffed at [Omar] Vizquel comparisons. Scouting directors said Lindor was a legitimate candidate for the No. 1 overall pick, but more likely he'll slot in just behind that."
Baseball News Hound: "Lindor’s defense is his calling card. One of the 2011 draft’s few high school shortstops who’s actually projected to stay at shortstop throughout his professional career, Lindor has an above-average throwing arm, immense body control and quick feet in the field. He’s a polished fielder with smooth actions and is capable of making acrobatic, off-balance throws and diving/sliding stops. While his premium defensive ability allows him to get a bit lax on easy plays and make careless mistakes at times, he’s generally able to avoid errors and has kept his fielding percentage at or above .900 throughout his high school career—a difficult feat for teenage shortstops. Though he’s grown an inch throughout the past year and now stands at 5’11”, he probably won’t grow much more. However, his wiry frame is solid, and if he adds more shoulder strength, his arm should develop into a consistent plus on the diamond. Overall, he has has the tools and instincts to develop in to an above-average everyday shortstop in the big leagues. At the plate, Lindor can certainly hold his own. He has quick hands, strong wrists and makes hard contract. His soft hands play in the field as well as they afford him plus bat control. He’s a true switch hitter with a linedrive stroke and gap power from both sides of the plate. He drives the ball up the middle and to the opposite field with a quick, easy stroke has flashed some pull power. While his size will keep him from being a power threat, as he showed at the Aflac All-American Home Run Derby, he has the tools to develop fringe-average to average pop and could produce 10-15 homeruns annually if he can add some strength to his swing. While Lindor is a solid all-around player—outside of his arm– he isn’t blessed with any true impact-level tools. His speed is solid-average– with a chance to be a tick above– but he’ll never be a real stolen base threat. At short, while his footwork and fundamentals give him good range, he could lose a step or two if he adds some bulk in an attempt to of improve his offensive profile– see Tim Beckham. Though his power and hitting ability could potentially be above-average among MLB middle infielders, his work at the plate definitely won’t be able to carry his game if he ever stumbles defensively.Lindor is a solid first-round pick for any team in need of a middle infielder. His tools don’t jump off the board like Machado’s or Beckham’s did, but his mix of good makeup, plus glovework, and solid offense should allow him to move fairly quickly through the minor leagues. He’s a good bet to be an Erick Aybar-type shortstop, or even a young version of Cristian Guzman, though he has a shot at developing in to an all-around threat in the mold of Alex Gonzalez or Orlando Cabrera."
Indians first-round pick (8th overall) Francisco Lindor
Photo courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel.