Name: Francisco Lindor
Notable 2011 Statistics: 6-for-20 with 5/1 K/BB, 1 SB in 5 games for Mahoning Valley (Short-season-A)
Why He’s This High: Lindor is the third of three smallish middle infielders who open the list, and he has more upside than either #100 Tyler Pastornicky or #99 Henry Rodriguez. Lindor was considered by many to be the best player in the 2011 high school position player class, and he was picked eighth overall by the Indians.
Obviously, Lindor signed too late to play a significant amount of time in pro ball, but for what unbelievably little it’s worth, he didn’t embarrass himself in the five-game stint he had in short-season ball.
Despite his youth, Lindor would probably be the first guy mentioned in a conversation about who the best defensive shortstop on my top 100 list is. He has excellent quickness and arm strength from deep in the hole, which makes up for just solid-average speed.
Offensively, Lindor has some wiry strength and could be a regular double-digit homer hitter down the line. He also boasts solid contact skills and an advanced approach for a 17-year-old. We’ll have to see exactly what sort of numbers he’s able to put up in pro ball, but since he’ll play the entire 2012 season at age 18, he has all sorts of time to make adjustments.
Why He’s This Low: One trend I’ve noticed sets my list apart from others is my hesitance to include present-year draftees. Many other lists I’ve seen have the majority of this year’s first-rounders, and even some later-round over-slot guys. Lindor is, in fact, the lowest-drafted 2011 player on my list not named Josh Bell. As a fairly statistically-minded analyst, I’m not going to rush to get on the bandwagon of a guy before he proves he can succeed in pro ball unless he’s a truly can’t-miss, top-of-the-draft player.
That’s no slight to Lindor or any of the first-rounders selected after him–with strong 2012 seasons, they’ll all be candidates to skyrocket up my rankings. Inevitably, though, we’ll get some busts in the mid-first round and some breakouts from later rounds, so the volatility there is very high.
Anyway, back to Lindor. Reviews on his swing mechanics are mixed. While he should be good defensively and boast average power, it remains to be seen what kind of walk rate and strikeout rate he’ll be able to muster. If he can control the strike zone, he should be a Yunel Escobar-type hitter, except with the added bonus of switch-hitting. If he can’t control the zone, he could just be an Ian Desmond sort of player.
Naturally, there’s a lot of uncertainty about what path he’ll take since we have essentially no statistical context for him as a professional, not to mention that it’s tough to make much out of a 17-year-old’s performance anyway.
Conclusions: Lindor could turn into a very valuable player as an above-average defensive shortstop with a well-rounded offensive game. His overall upside is limited due to his fairly small size, but he could have much more of an impact than either prospect behind him on this list. That said, of course, he’s much further away, and hasn’t proven anything as a professional. He’s an exciting guy to follow, though, and a big first full season would likely elevate him to the top 50, particularly if he is able to handle a full-season league at age 18.
Previous installments in the Seedlings To Stars 2012 Top 100 Prospects:
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