Low Level Prospect Review: Francisco Lindor (SS), Cleveland Indians

There's another guy down in the minors who might be here in a few years? No way! (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Every Friday through the rest of the season I plan on looking at a prospect who is currently in the lower levels of the minors, but should be on the radar of every dynasty league owner for their next minor league draft. Today's prospect is no exception, as I take a look at a shortstop prospect who is extremely likely to stick at the position. That prospect is the top draft pick by the Cleveland Indians from the 2011 draft, shortstop Francisco Lindor.

Ray recently ranked Lindor as his #4 shortstop prospect in the minors right now, behind Jurickson Profar, Manny Machado, and Xander Bogaerts, so what is Lindor's story, and what could he be for your fantasy team? Find out more after the jump...

Lindor was drafted by the Indians with the 8th overall pick in the 2011 draft, but at the time there appeared to be some mixed opinions about when he would go. At the time, BP's Kevin Goldstein projected him to go #7 overall in his final mock draft prior to the actual draft, while Keith Law had him at #11 in his final mock draft. Lindor signed at the deadline to a $2.9 million bonus, and was able to get into 5 games for the Indians' short season Low-A affiliate.

The Indians were aggressive with the young shortstop, as they sent him to their full-season Low-A affiliate in the Midwest League, and so far the reports and performance have both been very interesting. Through Wednesday's games, Lindor is hitting .270/.359/.383 with 4 HR, 47 runs, 23 RBI, and is 17 for 23 on stolen base attempts. He's also added 30 walks to go along with 45 strikeouts so far.

To me, three things stand out about Lindor's potential:

1. His defense is considered extremely likely to keep him at the shortstop position.

There are very few prospects who start out at shortstop who are likely to end up there once they get to the Majors. Lindor is one who fits into that category. Here's a bit of what Minor League Ball's John Sickels had to say about Lindor prior to the season:

A strong defensive shortstop who can hit, at least for average. Not expected to have big power, but not punchless either. He should be a force at the top of the order while providing a slick glove, and probably won't need as much time in the minors as many high schoolers.

While the value provided by him being at a premium defensive position doesn't specifically help us for fantasy purposes, it does increase his value due to the positional scarcity.

2. While his power upside is not particularly high, we're not looking at a player who will hit no home runs either.

So far, Lindor's ISO this season is .113. Out of 24 MLB shortstops who have qualified for the batting title so far this year, that would rank him 11th. Based on last season's info with the same qualifications, that would have been good for 13th out of 20. Obviously, we cannot translate that exactly, but it is interesting to see that his power could have the potential to be middle of the pack at his position, especially given...

3. His speed and batting average should play to a solid level as well.

It doesn't sound like he's going to compete for batting titles, but based on the reports I have seen so far, his bat should provide a solid batting average (.270-.280 range), and has shown solid speed thus far (17 stolen bases, 3 triples).

Conclusions

As a whole player, you're looking at someone who could provide decent to solid value across all 5 categories in a standard league, at a position that can be a bit shaky at times. I could very well see him giving a .275/85 R/10-12 HR/65-75 RBI/20-25 SB season within the first few years of him making it to the big leagues.

His age works to his favor, as Lindor will play the full season this year at the age of 18. I could see him being a level-per-year guy, especially given that the Indians already have Asdrubal Cabrera under contract already through the 2014 season. If Lindor advances a level at a time, that would put him on a path to debut in the Majors at the start of the 2016 season, so the Indians could conceivably work with a stopgap for the 2015 season if they needed to.

I think that in my own shortstop rankings, Lindor would be in that second tier behind Jurickson Profar and Manny Machado, and grouped right now in some order with Xander Bogaerts, Nick Franklin, Billy Hamilton, and Jean Segura. I might put Lindor slightly ahead of all of them, just because out of that group Lindor is the most likely to stay at shortstop as he moves up. We're seeing that Franklin is playing 2B some at AAA, and the other three are also candidates to potentially move elsewhere on the diamond.

Sources

Minor League Ball
Baseball Prospectus
Baseball Reference
MILB.com

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