Lindor Brings a Humble Leadership to the RubberDucks
Danny Madden | On 15, Apr 2014
One of the brightest stars in the Indians system is not too far away from seeing his first moment in The Show. The prospect in question is none other than minor league All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor.
Lindor, 20 years-old, is in his fourth season with the Cleveland Indians minor league system, originally drafted in the first round of the 2011 First Year Player Draft by the Indians. Since then, he’s played in two All-Star Future Games and is now enjoying time with the Double-A Akron RubberDucks.
Through nine games with the RubberDucks, Lindor is batting a modest .250/.302/.777. Overall, Lindor’s offense has not caught up with him as he’s off to a bit of a slow start. This doesn’t affect him at all though. With the impending departure of incumbent Cleveland shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, Lindor may be the next in line to take over the shortstop role. He’ll only inherit this role if he’s absolutely ready though. For Lindor, rushing to the big league club isn’t something that he’s worried about.
“I could be the last prospect in all of baseball, and I still have to go out there and perform and have fun,” explains Lindor. “At the end of the day, it’s all about what I can do and contribute to help the team win. That’s what it’s all about.”
For the RubberDucks this season, they have a new manager in Dave Wallace. Wallace is no stranger to managing the players that are on this team though as he has essentially moved up along with most of these players. He’s managed Lindor in part, or all, of his four professional seasons.
“He’s like my dad in baseball, he’s a great guy. I had him last year most of the year. He’s a great manager, I have fun with him and Wallie’s here and he’s one of the best managers I’ve had,” says Lindor about Wallace.
Having Wallace at Akron is huge for someone like Lindor. By keeping a manager that knows exactly what kind of player he is and how he plays is exactly what a player of his caliber needs to help continue developing. Having Wallace and teammates such as Tony Wolters, Joe Wendle and Tyler Naquin is important to Lindor. These players together have built a set of trust between all of them, that’s big when it comes to playing together.
“It’s very mind comforting and relaxing,” Lindor said. “It makes me better, they work for perfection and I work for that as well. When I see them try and they see me go for it. It makes us better.”
At the end of the 2013 season, Lindor suffered a back injury that sat him out for the last month of the season. This was the first major injury to him so far in his career, and having to sit out the last month was not what he had in mind.
“It was challenging,” Lindor said. “I wouldn’t say it was disappointing. I got frustrated and wished I was playing with my team, and I wished I was out there, but I took advantage of it.”
Although, Lindor is not the type of player to sit there and be brought down because of an injury. His down to earth attitude keeps him positive, and he adjusts to his situations. Good, or bad. During his injury, he took advantage of his time off to learn from watching his teammates continue on with their season.
“I got to see the game from another standpoint. That was big,” Lindor said.
His back does not seem to be bothering him now though, as he has already made some stellar defensive plays. In Friday night’s game against the Bowie Baysox, he turned a couple of double plays while also making a leaping snag to take away a single from the Baysox. Keeping Lindor healthy will be key this season for his development. While the RubberDucks still have Ronny Rodriguez as a backup shortstop, Lindor will be seeing more time there.
While Lindor made some stellar plays defensively Friday night, he was also a force to be reckoned with offensively as well. After the game had gone into the 13th inning, Lindor was the first man to come to the plate. With one crack of the bat, Lindor sent a deep fly ball to dead center to give the RubberDucks their first win at Canal Park, and in walk-off fashion.
“When I hit it, I knew it had good carry,” Lindor said. “I never thought it would be a home run. I was looking at the ball the whole time when I saw it hit the fence, I heard a different noise. That’s when I pointed up, and said ‘Hell yeah.’”
That was Lindor’s second home run of the young season, and it gave the RubberDucks a 2-1 victory. During the game, Cleveland Indians Michael Bourn and Jason Giambi were on rehab assignments with the RubberDucks. During this time, the team was able to benefit from their presence in the clubhouse.
“It was cool, he was right next to my locker. I talked to him and asked him how everything was going. He’s a great guy to be around, he always brings positive vibes,” explains Lindor about having Giambi around last Friday.
“I asked him what were some of his favorite cities that he’s been to, and which were the coolest ones. What kind of model of bats he uses. How long he’s using them. Nothing major, but for me it means a lot. Not only for me, but for the whole entire team. “
Having that veteran presence in clubhouse affected the RubberDucks, just as it does in Cleveland. Lindor was able to benefit from having Giambi there and learning something from this experience. Giambi may have acted as the leader to the RubberDucks on Friday night, but on most nights it’s Lindor that’s taking on that leadership position.
“Something special about [Lindor] Franky, he’s humble and he won’t admit it, but he’s a leader whether he tries to be or not,” says Wallace. “The way he approaches a game and his preparation, his work ethic, the fact that he’s one of, if not, the best player on the field at any given moment. He is the leader, he’s in a leadership role. It comes naturally to him. That’s what I love, he doesn’t feel like he’s out there having to lead. It just comes naturally to him.”
Lindor brings a calming but exciting presence to the ball club. Being able to produce, defend, and lead is huge for a young player of his caliber. It’s only a matter of time before Lindor makes his way up to Cleveland, but for now, he’s just taking it one step at a time.
“I’m here, this is what I’ve gotta do,” Lindor said. “I try to focus in and I try to enjoy it. You know the saying, enjoy the ride.”
The RubberDucks are now 5-5 on the season after a loss to the Bowie Baysox on Sunday. They begin a three game series against the Trenton Thunder starting Monday, April 14.
Photo: Lianna Holub/DTTWLN photographer