What to expect from Lindor in Majors
Game's No. 3 prospect brings elite glove, but bat can help Indians, too
Everyone in baseball knew it was a question of when, not if, Francisco Lindor would get called up to the big leagues in 2015.
When shortstop Jose Ramirez was optioned to Triple-A on Monday, it became clear the "when" might be soon. It officially became "when" on Sunday, when the Indians called up the No. 3 prospect on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects list for Sunday's game against the Tigers.
First and foremost, Indians fans can expect premium defense from Lindor, the No. 8 pick in the 2011 Draft. He makes all of the routine plays and is capable of making the spectacular plays look easy. He has plus range, outstanding hands and a very strong and accurate arm. Teams like their shortstop to be the captain of the infield, and Lindor, though he's just 21, should be able to fill that role fairly quickly and capably.
That will be a constant for Lindor, along with his plus makeup and work ethic. Even if the offensive side of Lindor's game is inconsistent, he is not the type to bring that to the field with him. That's not to say Lindor is a glove-only shortstop; he is capable of contributing with the bat almost as much as he is defensively.
During his rise to the big leagues, Lindor has shown an ability to hit for average (.278 for his career) and run (at least 25 steals in each of his first three full seasons). In 2014, he started to show extra-base pop, hitting 11 home runs, though with that power came a few more swings and misses. This season, Lindor collected 18 extra-base hits serving as Triple-A Columbus' leadoff hitter, a role he won't be expected to fill immediately in Cleveland.
Lindor has continued to show solid on-base skills, with a .348 OBP, which -- even if he's at the bottom of the big league lineup -- will help the Indians turn the order over. Indians shortstops had the second-worst on-base plus slugging percentage in the big leagues at .520. Lindor's career OPS is .737, and it's .745 this year.
In June, Lindor has hit .400/.429/.600, so perhaps the Indians called him up at precisely the right time. At the very least, he should provide more offensive production than the other shortstops the Indians have tried so far this year, along with premium-level defense and a very healthy dose of energy.