2011 MLB Draft: Why Francisco Lindor Was Right Pick for the Cleveland Indians

Geordy BoverouxCorrespondent IIJune 7, 2011

Francisco Lindor is a 17-year-old defensive whiz and the best choice for Cleveland.
Francisco Lindor is a 17-year-old defensive whiz and the best choice for Cleveland.

The Cleveland Indians selected shortstop Francisco Lindor out of Montverde Academy in Montverde, Florida with the eighth pick in the 2011 MLB Draft.

Many national pundits figured the Tribe would go with the same strategy they have the last two years, drafting a college pitcher.

Despite this, Cleveland still went with the 17-year-old shortstop.

So, what enticed scouting director Brad Grant to select Lindor? His bat isn't anything sensational, but Lindor is a switch hitter at a premium position that could hit home runs in the low teens in his prime. 

Indian fans may think that this pick is useless, considering they have a potential All-Star and MVP candidate in Asdrubal Cabrera at the major league level.

First, the MLB Draft is not like the NFL or NBA Drafts where teams select for need, it is all for upside which Lindor has. Also, Cabrera is not a Gold Glove-caliber shortstop like many think. His UZR is actually minus-6.8 so far in 2011. He is much better suited for second base, where his UZR was 5.4 in 2008.

On the other side of the spectrum, Lindor is a true Gold Glove candidate at short. Very rarely do high school shortstops stick at that position at the pro level, but Lindor is one of the exceptions to that rule. He has the ability to improvise, much like Cabrera does, but has much better range and a better arm for the position.

Lindor is not much of a burner, but he is smart when stealing bases. He possesses above-average speed and could steal between 15 and 20 bases when he reaches the major leagues. 

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The issue that will arise when Lindor is major league ready, is where to put him. His defense is too valuable to not put him at short. But that would mean forcing Cabrera to second base and pushing current top prospect Jason Kipnis from the every day lineup.

There is also utility man Cord Phelps, who has impressed in Triple-A the past two seasons and is close to a call up.

It seems that Lindor could be a "blocked prospect" in the future, but where he will play is not a concern to the Indians' front office when they drafted him.

The 2011 MLB Draft is about taking the best talent available and Lindor was just that. 

Lindor is only 17, so he will take three to four years to make the major leagues. In that amount of time a lot can happen. Cabrera could sign with another team or Kipnis or Phelps could have a devastating injury that could open up the opportunity for Lindor to play on a daily basis.

If Lindor is signed, he will immediately become one of the Tribe's top prospects. Many fans and draft experts expected Georgia Tech pitcher Jed Bradley or Texas pitcher Taylor Jungmann, but Lindor was the best pick for Cleveland.

The Indians have some of the best pitching depth in the minor leagues, taking a safe pick like Bradley and Jungmann would just add to that, but Cleveland would be without a top bat in their minor league system in that case.

Lindor can help set the Tribe's farm system over the top with top pitchers and bats such as LeVon Washington and Tony Wolters after Lonnie Chisenhall, Kipnis and Phelps are promoted later this year.

While many wanted a pitcher, Lindor was the best option for Cleveland with the eighth pick and he will quickly prove that when he signs.