Stamets Sees Blocked Path

GOODYEAR, Ariz.—With 22-year-old Francisco Lindor just beginning what many believe will be a long and an all-star-studded career, it’s probably difficult for the other shortstops in the Indians organization to see a path to the major leagues in Cleveland.

Eric Stamets is one of those shortstops. Invited to big league training camp as a non-roster player, the 24-year-old made a good impression before being sent to minor league camp.

“I know he looks up and sees Lindor and (Erik) Gonzalez,” big league manager Terry Francona said, “but you can’t have too many good players.”

Acquired last year at the trade deadline in a deal that sent outfielder David Murphy to the Angels, Stamets came with a reputation as a plus defender who struggles offensively. That profile seemed to be confirmed in the 33 games he played at Double-A Akron following the trade.

In 117 at-bats he hit .197/.252/.248. Twenty of his 23 hits were singles. Counting the 62 games he played at Double-A Arkansas prior to the trade, Stamets overall in 2015 had a slash line of .230/.287/.320, with four home runs and 35 RBIs in 331 at-bats.

“His defense is really good, but you’ve got to hit some to be an everyday player,” Francona said.

To that end, the Indians worked with Stamets this spring to improve his hitting.

“In our one-on-one meeting with him we asked him, ‘How do you envision yourself as being the best hitter you can be?,’ ” Francona said. “Then we said, ‘Let’s take that and work on it.’ I think he was a little bit relieved and open to it.”

Stamets, a 2012 sixth-round pick out of Evansville, appeared in 15 games during the exhibition season, going 6-for-16 (.375) with a double, a home run and four RBIs.

The key for Stamets, as his career progresses, is how far his bat progresses because his glove isn’t the issue.


• Prospect center fielder Tyler Naquin, the 15th overall pick in the 2012 draft, earned a spot on the Opening Day roster by hitting .447 (23-for-58) with three doubles, three triples, two home runs and a .500 on-base percentage.

• The Indians signed Marlon Byrd to a minor league deal, and he began the season as the club’s starting right fielder.

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