Lindor Smiles In Double-A Debut and Focused on Consistency
Mike B. | On 16, Jul 2013
Francisco Lindor was all smiles Tuesday afternoon as he met with the media in Akron prior to his Double-A debut. He rarely isn’t smiling, but the boisterous 19-year old top prospect of the Cleveland Indians was actually upset just minutes before learning about his promotion to the Aeros on Friday night.
His High-A team, the Carolina Mudcats lost Friday evening in walkoff fashion. After showering in the clubhouse, Mudcats’ manager Dave Wallace asked to speak with him.
“I was kinda mad because we lost,” Lindor said. “When I walked in the clubhouse I was mad because we lost on a walkoff. I was showered and Wally asked me to come talk to him. He started asking me about my plans for the Futures Game and I told him and he told me, ‘we’ll see you in spring training,’ and I thought, ‘Oh my God.’”
In his Double-A debut, Lindor was 0 for 2, with two walks in the Aeros 5-2 loss to the Erie SeaWolves Tuesday night. He earned a base on balls in the first and seventh inning, popping out to shortstop in the third inning and grounding into a double play in the fifth.
“I felt good, I felt comfortable,” Lindor said post game. “I just didn’t have any hits.”
While his first game may not be what stars are made of, Lindor does have star potential.
He’s not just the Indians’ top prospect but the no. 14 prospect in the minor leagues according to MLB.com and no. 7 according to Keith Law, hit .306, with 19 doubles, six triples a home run and 20 stolen bases in 83 games at Carolina this season before his promotion to Double-A. He drove with his sister over eight hours on Monday from Carolina to Akron to make his debut tonight with the Aeros. The switch-hitting shortstop hit second in Akron’s lineup. Selected as the eighth overall pick in the 2011 First Year Player Draft, Lindor is excited by the promotion, but grounded to a simple goal, consistency.
“I hear it every day,” Lindor said. “Be consistent, be consistent, be consistent. My dad tells me every day, be consistent. That’s where it came from. That was my mentality beginning last year and for this season. It’s not only in my playing, it’s being a family man, teammate and good friend.”
Now, Lindor will look to be consistent at Double-A, a level not normally for teenagers. The last five position players to reach this level before their 20th birthday are Xander Bogaerts, Jurickson Profar, Manny Machado, Bryce Harper and Mike Trout. Most Double-A promotions aren’t accompanied with a press conference like Lindor’s but according to his new manager, Edwin Rodriguez, handling the media and being ahead of the curve on the field is all part of his development in the Indians’ organization.
“The way people talk about him, he’s going to be able to handle this,” Edwin Rodriguez said. “When we talk about development, we talk about on the field and off the field. This is part he needs to work on and handle.”
Lindor doesn’t set individual statistical goals, nor did he have a timeline of progressing to Double-A or any other level. Still in just his second full season as a professional, he remains focused on getting better at all aspects of his game and remaining consistent from day to day. It’s a mantra he dedicated himself to a year ago as he learned its importance in the grind of a full professional baseball season.
“Getting the first year under the belt and working out during the offseason,” Lindor said. “Having people around you like teammates and coaches telling me that every day. It’s the mental side of the game where I tell myself every single day to be consistent.”
“I just try to play every day. I can’t control (when I progress) what happens. The only thing I can control is what I do on the field.”
Much of Lindor’s development—on and off the field in the Indians’ organization—can be credited to Wallace, the man who got to tell him about his promotion to Akron. Wallace was the short season manager at Mahoning Valley in 2011 when Lindor made his professional debut and the manager at Low-A Lake County in 2012, where he played the entire season, in addition to this season at Carolina.
“He’s been like my father in this organization,” Lindor said. “He’s been the one that’s taken care of me since short season to Lake County last year, this year. He’s been a great guy and I enjoyed the two years with him. He made me a better player.”
Now, he joins two other top ten prospects with the Indians in Ronny Rodriguez and Jose Ramirez. Rodriguez and Ramirez have played shortstop and second base, respectively, all season with the Aeros, creating a good problem for Akron and the Tribe’s organization.
“I think it’s a great situation for us and the organization,” Edwin Rodriguez said. Having three players that are eventually going to be playing in the big leagues, you can’t ask for anything better than that.”
“We will find a way to put all those guys in a situation that they will have success. That’s our job. Their job is just to go out and play the game.”
Both Ronny Rodriguez and Ramirez can play shortstop and second base. Currently Ramirez is out with after rolling his ankle and listed as day-to-day. Ronny Rodriguez is in the lineup this evening playing second base. Lindor and Ramirez were double play a double play combination at Lake County in the second half of last season. Lindor should see all his playing time at shortstop, while the other two infielders will see their time at second base and at designated hitter. Edwin Rodriguez was clear that none of the three players would be moved to third base.
Now, closer to Cleveland on the Indians depth chart and proximity, Lindor models his game after another former Tribesman and Puerto Rican, Roberto Alomar. Fans heading to Akron to see Lindor for the first time can expect hustle and effort to be proud of, both on and off the field.
“I’m going to go out there and give it my all every single day,” Lindor said. “I try to be the best person I can be, not just on the field, but with my family, teammates, friends, everyone.”