Lindor to be given every opportunity to develop
Tribe's top prospect to begin season at Triple-A
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The expectations are high for Francisco Lindor, and there is a chance that the Indians' elite shortstop prospect could hold his own in the big leagues right now. However, Cleveland is not caving into that kind of temptation when it comes to Lindor's path to the Majors.
"I don't think that's developing a player," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "If you [promote] a guy too quick and you get him beat up, that's not development. They've got to go through a progression, for the most part."
The 21-year-old Lindor -- ranked as the Indians' top prospect by multiple publications and rated as the fourth-best prospect in baseball among MLB.com's Top 100 -- is ticketed for Triple-A Columbus to begin the season. Cleveland is content with opening its season with fellow youngster Jose Ramirez as its starting shortstop, considering his level of production and experience in the Majors.
Last season, Lindor hit .276 with 11 home runs, 16 doubles, four triples, 62 RBIs, 75 runs and 28 stolen bases in 126 games between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus. Lindor's on-base percentage dropped to .307 at Triple-A (165 at-bats) compared to .352 at Double-A (342 at-bats), and his strikeout rate climbed higher than his career norm.
"Being 21 years old and being in Triple-A, he saw a lot of things for the first time," Francona said. "You're looking at some older players and guys that have been in the big leagues. He handled himself pretty well, but there was still a lot of learning going on.
"He's a really good player and, fortunately for us, he's very mature. We've seen a lot of kids that age that are good that are immature. Probably myself included. He's just a really mature kid and he is grasping things really quickly. That bodes well for us."
Here are some more notes and quotes from Monday:
• The initial update on Brandon Moss (hip) and Nick Swisher (both knees) earlier this spring indicated that both players were on target to be ready for game action by mid-March. On Monday, Francona noted that Moss "might be a little ahead" of Swisher in terms of a return to games. Added the manager: "I don't want those guys to feel like there's a deadline, because there's not."
• Indians ace and American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber is scheduled to throw a two-inning simulated game on Tuesday prior to his Cactus League debut (three innings) on Saturday. Francona said the sim game is "a good way to break him into this, where it's not quite the intensity, but it's a step forward."
• Michael Bourn, Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis are not in the lineup for Tuesday's Cactus League opener. Francona said Bourn will likely make his spring debut on Wednesday, and Brantley is slated to play on Thursday. The manager said Kipnis' debut will follow shortly thereafter.
• The two young players acquired at the July 31 Trade Deadline last season -- James Ramsey and Zach Walters -- will play multiple positions this spring. Francona said Ramsey will be run through all three outfield spots and indicated that Walters will get reps at shortstop, second base, first base and the outfield.
• Morning rain showers on Monday forced the Indians to move their daily workout indoors. Pitchers scheduled to throw live batting practice did so in the batting cage, but batters were instructed not to swing. Francona said the day provided much-needed rest after two weeks of aggressive workouts.