Lindor and Naquin Lead Mudcats with Wallace at Helm
Rob McLamb | On 10, Apr 2013
To develop a winning mentality in major league baseball, it is best to begin with a formula for success in the minor leagues.
The Carolina Mudcats begin its second season as Class A affiliates of the Cleveland Indians with excitement over the influx of talent and hope that its relationship with its parent club will continue to blossom.
David Wallace is marching up the managerial ladder in the Cleveland organization. In his third season as skipper, Wallace has been annually promoted and begins his first year in Zebulon with a 112-102 record overall.
With a solid nucleus of players from last season’s Lake County Captains’ roster that made it to the second round of the Midwest League playoffs, the 2013 Mudcats will look to expand on the gains on the field and in player development.
It all starts with 2011 first round draft pick Francisco Lindor, the top-rated prospect in the Cleveland organization by Baseball America. Last season, the shortstop posted solid numbers in his first full year. Lindor batted .257 with six home runs and 42 RBIs along with 27 stolen bases in 2012 at Lake County.
Lindor, however, is not nearly satisfied.
“We (Lake County) did well last season,” Lindor said. “But we want more. We want to establish a winning mentality now.”
“As for me,” Lindor added. “I want to improve at everything. There is nothing settled with my game.”
Last season’s first round pick for the Tribe has also been assigned to Carolina. Tyler Naquin is rated third-best prospect by Baseball America and appeared in the 2011 College World Series for Texas A&M. Naquin batted .270 in his first season of professional ball at Mahoning Valley in the New York-Penn League last year.
Naquin likes the make-up of this year’s Carolina ballclub.
“Just being here and knowing some of the guys from Arizona (spring training) and last year,” Naquin said. “We have a great chemistry together. “
“This (playing baseball) is a job for me now. It is about being professional and coming to work prepared and ready to learn.”
The Carolina Mudcats organization itself is permeating excitement over its relationship with Cleveland. The Indians are the fourth parent club for the Mudcats since its inception in 1991 and owner Steve Bryant would like to see the relationship continue.
“We have been fortunate to be accepted into the Cleveland family,” Bryant said. “Everything about the Indians organization is first class.”
“What I really like is the teaching of winning baseball,” Bryant added.
“You don’t want your players reaching the top level without some winning experience. Cleveland teaches its players to win here so they are ready to win up there.”
The excitement over the Tribe’s big off-season acquisitions this past winter is palpable all the way down in Zebulon.
“When we were in Arizona for spring training,” Wallace said. “The attitude and atmosphere was terrific. Terry (Francona) and his staff was not only helpful but also brought a great mentality to camp.”
Naquin, while also singing the praises of the Cleveland organization, pointed in his comments regarding staying focused on the job at hand.
“We all read papers and saw with our own eyes the talent in Arizona,” Naquin said. “But it does not guarantee the big club or us any success.”
“We have to do our jobs, and I think we all will.”
For Lindor, Naquin and the rest of the Mudcats, the focus and success all starts from Wallace.
“I love this organization,” Wallace said. “I played for it, did some time working in the bullpen, and now I am managing in it. In this job, you have to find the balance between teaching the guys to be winners while also making sure they grow and progress to a point that benefits themselves and the club”
“This is the only place I want to be. Cleveland is the only club I ever want to work for.”
Photo by Nikolaus © 2013 Carolina Mudcats