Lindor's Promise Too Much For Indians To Pass Up

CLEVELAND—Brad Grant admitted "there was a debate at eight," as the Indians found themselves on the clock about to make the eighth overall selection in the 2011 MLB amateur draft.

But instead of going with the safe college pitcher pick—a trend many baseball folks and draft experts expected the Indians to continue after going that route the last two years—pure talent won out.

"Surprise!" the Indians director of amateur scouting sang as he entered a room on the fourth level of Progressive Field to meet with the assembled media. "High school position player. We went against it."

Surprise indeed, as Grant and his staff had a good debate before ultimately choosing Florida high school shortstop Francisco Lindor, a 17-year old whom they've been eyeing for the last two and a half years.

"He has the ability to stay at short," Grant said. "To get a premium position athlete like Francisco is rare, where his defensive side is premium . . . He's got plus hands and plus feet, easy range, very good instincts and the true ability to stay at shortstop."

Lindor's offense impressed the Indians as well.

"He's a switch-hitter who is very good from both sides of the plate, a line-drive, gap-type hitter with some power," Grant said.

The 5-foot-11, 170-pounder batted .528 during his senior season at Montverde Academy, with six home runs, 13 RBI, 31 runs scored and 15 of his 28 hits going for extra bases. On the base paths, he also recorded 20 steals in 21 attempts.

Lindor won the home run hitting contest at the Aflac All-American Game in August 2010 at San Diego's PETCO Park. In 2009 he helped USA Baseball's Under-16 team to a gold medal in Taiwan by hitting .500 with three triples and six steals.

Lindor's path to being a top 10 selection in this year's draft was calculated before he even officially became a teenager. The Clermont, Fla., resident was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico, before moving to the Orlando area at 12.

"What he's done to come over here is impressive," Grant said. "We've gotten to know him very well. Every time we've talked to him, we've come away even more impressed. He didn't know English when he came here and yet went to a private boarding school known as much for its academics as its baseball team. Plus having to support his family, he's made a lot of sacrifices."

Still, Grant knows tabbing Lindor with the Tribe's top pick comes with an inherited risk the Indians haven't taken in a decade.

The Tribe last selected a high school player in the first round of the 2001 draft (California high school righthander Dan Denham). Further, the most recent high school position player before Lindor came in 2000 (shortstop Corey Smith). Neither of those high-risk selections panned out.

"There's certainly more of a risk with a young high school player," Grant said. "(Lindor's) still 17 years old. When you look at that, the development path is going to be a little bit longer. But at the same time, to get a young shortstop in our system is something that was too good to pass by. He's a special player."

Smoke Signals

• Double-A Akron outfielder Tim Fedroff was named the Eastern League player of the month for May—a stretch that included a 20-game hitting streak. On the season Fedroff's batting .362 with nine doubles, three triples, two home runs and a team-best 30 RBIs.

• Triple-A Columbus righthander Zach McAllister leads the International League with seven wins, with a 7-2 record and 3.13 ERA that includes two complete games. In 72 innings he's struck out a team-high 55 batters and issued just 15 walks.