Every weekday for the next few weeks you'll find a look back at the 2014 season for one of the Indians or Indians prospects, as we sort out what happened and what it means for the franchise going forward.
- Position: SS
- 2014 Player Age: 20
- Acquired: 1st round, 2011 Draft
Lindor has been the Tribe's top prospect since almost the moment he was chosen with the #8 pick of the 2011 MLB Draft. Since then he has moved quickly through the farm system, never spending more than a year at any one level, and playing as one of the youngest in the league in each stop along the way. Prior to 2014 the major talent-evalaution organizations had Lindor ranked between #6 and #13 for all MLB prospects.
After his first spring training in Major League camp, Lindor began the season with Double-A Akron, where he'd spent the last few weeks of 2013. His numbers there down a bit from what he'd done the year before (primarily his walk rate and OBP), but his Double-A numbers from 2013 came in a small sample, and his numbers this year were still well above average for a player his age (he was nearly five years younger than the average Eastern League player) and for a shortstop.
Lindor was named to play in the MLB Futures Game for the third year in a row, an accomplishment matched by only two other position players in the game's history. He played that game with a mask on (as pictured above), after a bad hop hit him in the face and fractured his nose two weeks before the game. A few days after the Futures Game, he was promoted to Triple-A Columbus.
There his numbers declined again, which shouldn't be a surprise, given that he was now 7 years younger than the average player, facing the stiffest competition of his life. In 180 Triple-A plate appearances, Lindor hit .273/.307/.388. He walked in only 5% of his PA, while striking out 20% of the time. Those aren't awful rates, but they're not good either, and they don't scream out "Call me up now!" Between his modest production in Columbus and Jose Ramirez's emergence in Cleveland, it was probably a very easy decision not to bring Lindor up for even a September cup of coffee, which would have started Lindor's service time clock.
The decline in walk rate was a little disappointing, but not out of line for the step up in competition, and not particuarly concerning, given his youth. A more positive change was an increase in power. No one sees Lindor as a guy who's someday going to hit 30 home runs, but 15-20 a year would be nice. In 2013 he hit only 2 home runs all year. In 2014 though, that number rose to 11 (including 5 during his six weeks in Triple-A). Lindor has a fairly thin build, but he's reaching the age where he should start to fill out more, and it's nice to see his power increasing.
Almost o matter how well he hits, Lindor's bat isn't going to be his calling card. What makes him such a special prospect is his defense, which is rated by consensus as the best of any shortstop prospect in baseball. Lindor made 16 errors this season, which is not an impressive total. 13 of those came with Akron, only 3 with Columbus, so there was some improvement there. I wouldn't say we should just ignore those errors, but I'd also point out that none of the scouting reports I've seen for Lindor have mentioned any concern over his glove, so for people watching him play (and people who know what to look for when watching), his defense is still a major plus, so I don't think the errors should trouble us much.
2014 grade: B
Outlook for 2015
Lindor will get invited to MLB camp again, and there will be calls to put him on the roster for Opening Day. This would be foolish though, as by keeping him in Triple-A for even two and a half week, the Indians would gain an extra year of club control, which is of major importance for a team with the Tribe's financial constraints. If he struggles in Columbus (or is Ramirez is lights out for the Indians), he might be kept in the minors a while longer, but if he shows any further progress and Ramirez is anything short of great, I expect we'll see Lindor make his MLB debut by the middle of May.
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com