Prospect Lindor highlights Tribe's non-roster invitees
Shortstop to be joined at spring camp by Naquin, Wendle, Wolters, Lowery and Perez
CLEVELAND -- The future of the Indians will be on display this spring.
On Wednesday, Cleveland announced that highly touted shortstop prospect Francisco Lindor will be in camp with the Tribe as a non-roster invitee. Other prospects extended invitations include outfielder Tyler Naquin, second baseman Joe Wendle and catchers Tony Wolters, Jake Lowery and Roberto Perez.
Lindor -- the Indians' top pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft -- earned some Spring Training at-bats last year, but this will be his first extensive exposure with the big league club. The switch-hitting shortstop, ranked as the club's No. 1 prospect by MLB.com, ended last season with Double-A Akron and is expected to advance to Triple-A this summer.
While Lindor appears to represent the future for Cleveland at shortstop, the Indians are being careful not to rush the 20-year-old to the big leagues before he is ready.
"He's an extraordinarily motivated guy," Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said earlier this offseason. "He's a great person with a great work ethic, and I think it's just natural to want to compete against the best players. I think that's, in the end, one of the things that will make Francisco such a good Major League player. But there's also a process to go through developmentally."
Lindor, who played in his second straight All-Star Futures Game last season, hit .303 with a .380 on-base percentage and a .407 slugging percentage in 104 games between Class A (high) Carolina and Double-A Akron in 2013. The shortstop added two homers, 22 doubles, seven triples, 34 RBIs, 25 stolen bases and 65 runs scored.
Lindor's season ended prematurely due to a lower back injury, but he is expected to be at full strength for Spring Training.
Cleveland will also take a close look this spring at Naquin and Wendle, who are two standouts from the Tribe's 2012 Draft. Naquin was taken with the 15th overall selection in the first round and the Indians added Wendle in the sixth round.
The 22-year-old Naquin posted a .269/.334/.405 slash line in 126 games between Carolina and Akron last season, piling up 10 homers, 30 doubles, six triples, 48 RBIs, 15 stolen bases and 78 runs. The center fielder then hit at a .339 clip with six extra-base hits and 19 RBIs in 27 games for the Surprise Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League.
Wendle, 23, took home the Indians' Lou Boudreau Award for 2013, honoring the second baseman as the farm system's top position player. He appeared in 107 games at Carolina, where he hit .295/.372/.513 with 16 homers, 32 doubles, five triples, 64 RBIs, 10 stolen bases and 73 runs. Wendle then hit .311 with seven extra-base hits and 12 RBIs for Surprise in the AFL.
The 21-year-old Wolters heads into his second season as a catcher for the Indians, who initiated his transition from a middle-infield role last offseason. In 80 games with Carolina, he hit .277/.369/.353 with three homers, 13 doubles and 33 RBIs. Wolters also threw out 28 percent of would-be basestealers in his first season behind the plate.
Lowery posted a .264/.359/.437 slash line with seven home runs, 23 doubles, two triples, 33 RBIs and 26 runs in 82 games between tours with Carolina and Akron last season. The 23-year-old catcher also had a caught-stealing rate of 28.1 percent.
The 25-year-old Perez hit .200 with two homers, 18 doubles, 34 RBIs and 26 runs in 99 games between stops with Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus in '13. He also retired 34.9 percent of would-be basestealers.