RAPIDS, Iowa — Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez have a lot in
common. Both were born in Puerto Rico and later played high school
ball in Florida. Both competed in the 2010 PG All-American Classic,
each hitting a triple. And both were drafted in the first-round of
the 2011 First-Year Player Draft; Lindor eighth overall by the
Cleveland Indians, Baez ninth overall by the Chicago Cubs.
now, after receiving $2.9 million and $2.6 million in signing
bonuses, Lindor and Baez are the starting shortstops for their
respective Midwest League teams.
with Perfect Game earlier this month, is batting .326/.380/.594
with 10 home runs and 19 stolen bases in 192 plate appearances with
the Peoria Chiefs.
is a great person, a humble guy and his family is awesome,” Lindor
said. “He deserves everything that’s happening for him.
talk often about baseball and give advice to each other. Whatever I
learn, I share with him. What he learns, he shares with me. That’s
what friends are for.”
who is 11 months younger than Baez, has 28 extra-base hits and 19
steals with a .266/.359/.384 line in 403 plate appearances with the
Lake County Captains.
been extremely happy with Francisco since the day he showed up,”
Lake County Manager David Wallace said. “He’s as much of a
quality player on the field as he is a quality person off the field.
He’s humble and is a hard worker. He’s not egotistical in any way
and knows it’s going to take a lot of hard work to reach his goal
of playing in the big leagues, and he’s willing to do what it
first wowed scouts in 2008 at the age of 14, playing with 16 and
17-year-olds in the WWBA Underclass World Championship. He blasted a
pair of home runs and drove the ball for extra bases consistently —
from both sides of the plate.
offensive potential shined through again when he won the home run
derby at the 2010 PG All-American Classic.
was a great experience,” he said of playing in the All-American
Classic. “It exposed me to the scouts there.”
year, top high school talents such as Clint Frazier (Loganville HS,
Ga.), Justin Williams (Terrebonne HS, La.), Dominic Smith (Serra HS,
Calif.), Cavan Biggio (St. Thomas HS, Texas.), Jordan Sheffield
(Tullahoma HS, Tenn.), Robert Kaminsky (St. Joseph Regional HS, N.J.)
and Clinton Hollon (Woodford County HS, Ky.) will compete in the
PG/Aflac All-American Classic, to be played August 12 at PETCO Park
in San Diego. Rosters
were announced July 12.
wish them luck,” Lindor said of this year’s All-Americans. “Keep
it simple, do whatever got you there and it’s going to work out for
Lindor, “doing what got you there” means displaying the skill set
that makes him one of the top shortstop prospects in the game.
According to one PG scout, Lindor’s “exceptional first-step
quickness … lightning-quick release” and “solid arm” should
allow him to stick at shortstop in the future.
who doesn’t turn 19 years old until November, was the youngest
player in the MLB Futures Game earlier this month. On a field that
featured top-ranked shortstops such as Jurickson Profar (Rangers),
Manny Machado (Orioles) and Billy Hamilton (Reds), Lindor still
managed to impress, hitting a single in his only at-bat.
I want to make it the big leagues, obviously I’m going to be
playing against older guys,” Lindor said. “So I just have to go
out there, learn from those guys and play hard every day.”
to his coach, Lindor has made many adjustments seamlessly for a guy
his age. Like most young players, he tends to expand his strike zone
on occasion. But as the season has progressed, he’s shown the
willingness to take more walks. Perhaps his biggest challenge thus
far has been adjusting to the mental side of the game.
in Perfect Game tournaments with travel ball teams, you don’t play
every day,” he said. “When you do play, it might be for one week
and that’s it. But here you play every day, and it doesn’t get
any better than this.”
his hefty signing bonus, early success and high praise from baseball
scouts, Lindor has shown maturity far beyond his years.
is a very humbling game,” he said. “I’m trying to get better as
a person by learning. You learn from your teammates, you learn from
the game. You have to always stay with the Lord; He’s always on
your side with your family, your friends and your team. That’s how
you become a better person, just by working hard every day.”
progression between this year and next will go a long way in
determining how quickly he moves in the Indians’ system. His tools
and willingness to make adjustments could force the team into
advancing him quickly. He’s only 18 however, and has less than 450
professional plate appearances under his belt.
isn’t too worried about his young shortstop.
always asking questions so we help him the best we can,” he said.
“The bottom line is, if we just stay out of his way, he’s going
to have a long, great career.”