Hailing from the sunshine state, Montverde Academy’s Francisco Lindor is the top shortstop in a draft class thin on middle infielders. While he’s more known for his slick fielding than for his bat, Lindor put on a power show at 2010’s Aflac All-American Home Run Derby Held at Petco Park. The young ballplayer won the contest with a power show at one of the MLB’s toughest parks on batters. He blasted four home runs, including his 390 foot drive against the wind.
While he had already been on scout’s radar’s for years, having played for the 16U Junior National Team, Lindor skyrocketed to the to of his draft class after his breakout performance a year ago. He finished his junior season with a .354 batting average and a .943 OPS at the plate and showed a smooth glove and mid 80s (mph) heat on his throws. This past season, he’s continued to hit at a nice clip and his glove is showing Gold Glove potential. While he’s not nearly as flashy as Manny Machado—the 2010 draft’s top shortstop—Lindor has a solid all-around game and will hear his name called early on draft day.
Lindor’s defense is his calling card. One of the 2011 draft’s few high school shortstops who’s actually projected to stay at shortstop throughout his professional career, Lindor has an above-average throwing arm, immense body control and quick feet in the field. He’s a polished fielder with smooth actions and is capable of making acrobatic, off-balance throws and diving/sliding stops. While his premium defensive ability allows him to get a bit lax on easy plays and make careless mistakes at times, he’s generally able to avoid errors and has kept his fielding percentage at or above .900 throughout his high school career—a difficult feat for teenage shortstops. Though he’s grown an inch throughout the past year and now stands at 5’11”, he probably won’t grow much more. However, his wiry frame is solid, and if he adds more shoulder strength, his arm should develop into a consistent plus on the diamond. Overall, he has has the tools and instincts to develop in to an above-average everyday shortstop in the big leagues.
At the plate, Lindor can certainly hold his own. He has quick hands, strong wrists and makes hard contract. His soft hands play in the field as well as they afford him plus bat control. He’s a true switch hitter with a linedrive stroke and gap power from both sides of the plate. He drives the ball up the middle and to the opposite field with a quick, easy stroke has flashed some pull power. While his size will keep him from being a power threat, as he showed at the Aflac All-American Home Run Derby, he has the tools to develop fringe-average to average pop and could produce 10-15 homeruns annually if he can add some strength to his swing.
While Lindor is a solid all-around player—outside of his arm– he isn’t blessed with any true impact-level tools. His speed is solid-average– with a chance to be a tick above– but he’ll never be a real stolen base threat. At short, while his footwork and fundamentals give him good range, he could lose a step or two if he adds some bulk in an attempt to of improve his offensive profile– see Tim Beckham. Though his power and hitting ability could potentially be above-average among MLB middle infielders, his work at the plate definitely won’t be able to carry his game if he ever stumbles defensively.
Lindor is a solid first-round pick for any team in need of a middle infielder. His tools don’t jump off the board like Machado’s or Beckham’s did, but his mix of good makeup, plus glovework, and solid offense should allow him to move fairly quickly through the minor leagues. He’s a good bet to be an Erick Aybar-type shortstop, or even a young version of Cristian Guzman, though he has a shot at developing in to an all-around threat in the mold of Alex Gonzalez or Orlando Cabrera.