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2013 in Review: Tyler Naquin (center fielder, right fielder, or tweener?)

A look at 2012 first round pick Tyler Naquin.

Tyler Naquin
Tyler Naquin
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Naquin

Age: 22

Acquired: 1st Round, 2012 Draft

Service Time: None

Rule 5 Eligible?: No

Option Years: Not on 40-man Roster

In the past three drafts, the Indians have twice gone for high-upside high school players with their first round picks. They chose Francisco Lindor in 2011, and this past June they picked Clint Frazier. But in between they selected a more polished college outfielder.

Naquin has a fascinating set of tools, with a very quick bat and an outstanding arm, but because his tools didn't really fit into a standard profile, he lasted until the middle of the first round despite leading the Big 12 in several offensive categories. Because defensively he fit better as a right fielder and offensively as a center fielder, he was labeled as a tweener. And because he played right field, not center field, for the Aggies, scouts didn't really have a read on whether he'd be able to play center.

So the Indians were taking a gamble when they selected him. Naquin didn't project to hit for much power, so you aren't going to draft a player in the middle of the first round with that hitting profile if he isn't going to be able to play a premium defensive position, and thus far the Indians have played him exclusively in center. To this point, he's worked out as a center fielder, and that's a good thing.

It's his offense that has been a bit disappointing. Between Carolina and Akron (with most of his at-bats coming in Carolina), he hit .269/.334/.405, not exactly a great line for a 22-year-old college player. Now he did skip Lake County entirely, but generally advanced college hitters usually are pushed quickly through the low minors.

Here was his splits this year (he's a left-handed hitter):

Against RHP: .289/.342/.428, 103 SO, 29 BB

Against LHP: .206/.310/.333, 31 SO, 17 BB

He hit for more average and power against right-handed pitching, but strangely enough his strikeouts and walks remind you of a power hitter. Against left-handed pitching he didn't get many hits, but he had a better SO/BB ratio. It looks like he's swinging early and often against right-handers, but he's more patient against left-handers.

Naquin was promoted to Akron in the middle of August, and he'll start there in 2014. The Indians have also sent him to the Arizona Fall League, which will be a nice test for him. AA usually weeds out prospects with holes in their game, so between the AFL and AA next year, we should know what the Indians have in Naquin.

2012 21 Mahoning Valley A- CLE 36 161 22 37 11 2 0 4 3 17 26 .270 .379 .380 .758
2013 22 2 Teams A+-AA CLE 126 583 78 142 30 6 10 15 10 46 134 .269 .334 .405 .739
2013 22 Carolina A+ CLE 108 498 69 124 27 6 9 14 7 41 112 .277 .345 .424 .769
2013 22 Akron AA CLE 18 85 9 18 3 0 1 1 3 5 22 .225 .271 .300 .571
2 Seasons 162 744 100 179 41 8 10 19 13 63 160 .269 .344 .400 .744
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 10/11/2013.