Lindor Remains Humble and Hungry After Future’s Game Experience
By Mike Brandyberry
At only 18 years old, Indians top prospect Francisco Lindor has had many opportunities in baseball already, but instead of putting his accomplishments on a pedestal, he wishes he could share them.
Lindor, in his first full season as a professional, was selected to play in the Major League Baseball Futures Game on the Sunday prior to the All-Star Game in Kansas City. Lindor, born in Puerto Rico, joined fellow Tribe prospect, Jesus Aguilar on the World team.
“It was an honor to play in that game,” Lindor said. “Not too many people get to play in that game. I wish everyone could get to go play. I was honored, excited and it was a great experience.”
Lindor replaced top Texas Rangers’ prospect Jurickson Profar at shortstop for the final three innings. While he only received one at bat, Lindor made the most of it, lacing a base hit through the right side.
Kaufman Stadium was sold out with more than 40,000 fans for the game. While that might seem breath-taking to the young star who plays in front of a few thousand most nights at Lake County and around the Midwest League, Lindor has played in front of large crowds previously through international play on the USA’s 17-under team. However, the Kaufman Stadium crowd was still the largest he’s seen in his career, by at least 20,000.
“There’s not a big difference, just a couple more decks, but that’s pretty much it,” Lindor said. “It was fun. You can’t let that get to you. You have to go out and compete and play your hardest.”
Lindor used the opportunity to experience as much as possible. While humble, he tried to talk to as many players, introduce himself and learn anything he could, including from his World team manager, Bernie Williams.
“I got to talk to Bernie Williams,” Lindor said. “I introduced myself and he’s a cool guy and a humble person.”
The Indians selected Lindor a year ago as the eighth overall pick in the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft. He waited until only minutes before the deadline to sign before committing to the Indians and a $2.15 million signing bonus. Lindor had already committed to Florida State to play baseball. Instead at Lake County the switch-hitting shortstop has shined, mostly against players older and with more professional experience. He’s hitting .266, with five home runs, 29 RBIs and 19 stolen bases.
Lindor doesn’t feel the pressure of being the Indians’ top prospect, however. He hopes to progress through the organization, but has no set timetable for himself. He just wants to compete and prove himself, regardless of where he was selected or his signing bonus.
“I can be a 50th round selection or the last prospect in the organization,” Lindor said. “I still have to come out here and perform for the fans that come out here each day and I have to perform for the organization. I have to prove to myself that they made the right decision to pick me and that I deserve this opportunity they gave me.”
While most players adapting to the rigor of professional baseball often complain about the grind, Lindor embraces it. The professional season is much longer and tougher on the body and mind than a high school or college season. Instead of focusing on the grind, Lindor is happy to be playing baseball every day and doesn’t focus on the daily up and downs a long season brings.
“It’s fun, it’s awesome. It doesn’t get any better,” Lindor said. “This is pretty much my life and this is what I want to do for a living. I got no regrets for making this decision. Everyone has moments when they struggle and everyone has moments when they are the best, but that’s baseball what baseball is all about.”
Expectations remain high for Lindor in the Indians organization and also within himself. As the Indians approach the Major League trade deadline on July 31, it is believed that Lindor is possibly the only minor league player that is nearly untouchable. While he remains humble about his accomplishments and progression, Lindor’s goals are very high and he expects improvement upon himself in every aspect of the game.
“To become one of the best baseball players, I have to improve on everything,” Lindor said. “You have to work on everything, keep working hard, grinding and doing your thing. I stay humble and thank the lord every day.”
Photo: Lake County-Sentinel