Prospect Report: Could Francisco Lindor Prove To Be Fantasy Relevant?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Indians recently promoted their 2011 first round draft pick (8th overall) to Triple-A, putting him on the doorstep of the Majors. While he may not get an opportunity in 2014, even if Asdrubal Cabrera were to head to the DL (he’s banged up right now with back spasms and the team has left Lindor at Triple-A), there’s little doubt that he’s in the team’s plans for 2015. Cabrera is assuredly going to head out as a free agent, leaving the shortstop job for Lindor to assume.

The question for fantasy owners is if he has the potential to make an impact or if he is better left for someone else to jump aboard the hype train.

He had 388 PA at Double-A prior to his promotion, hitting .278 with 6 HR and 25 SB. With just 2 HR in 463 PA in 2013, there’s little question that power is not currently his calling card. With just 12 doubles and 4 triples, giving him a .389 SLG, there doesn’t appear to be an immediate power infusion on the horizon for the 20-year old. It’s not impossible that he adds more power as he gains strength and experience, but it would appear that 15-ish home runs is his ultimate upside.

There’s no questioning his speed and he also is well regarded for his defense. The next question is going to be if he can hit for a strong average. He owns a .278 minor league career average and, while the line drive rates may not look impressive, they have been at least league average:

  • 2012 – Single-A – 16.1% (15.1% average)
  • 2013 – High-A – 14.9% (14.7% average)
  • 2013 – Double-A – 17.4% (15.9% average)
  • 2014 – Triple-A – 15.4% (15.6% average)

That’s respectable, especially given his age. When coupled with his control of the strike zone, with a career 13.2% strikeout rate and 10.5% walk rate, there’s definite upside in his batting average. While it could take some time, given his speed, it’s very realistic that he is routinely a .290+ hitter with .300+ in the cards.

Considering that shortstop is not a position known for it’s power and run production, it’s hard to complain with that makeup. He profiles as a top of the order bat who can hit for average, steal bases and hit for a good average immediately. If he gets up to 15 HR all the better, but even at just 6-8 per season there’s more than enough to like.

This season there are 10 shortstops with at least 120 AB who are hitting .280 or better. Only three of those have stolen more than 10 bases (Dee Gordon, Alexei Ramirez and Alcides Escobar) with Erick Aybar just missing. In other words, the makeup is more than enough to be fantasy relevant.

In keeper leagues stashing him may makes sense, especially since the Indians could give him a trial later this year. In redraft leagues he will be a low-end option to watch on draft day.

Sources – Minor League Central, CBS Sports

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