Have you had a movie you wanted to see, that was really hyped up by critics or your friends and you thought to yourself:
It has to be too good to be true.
That’s almost the way it comes off for Indians 2011 1st round pick (8th overall), Francisco Lindor.
But the young man from Clermont, Florida so far has lived up to the hype that surrounds him.
Every baseball draft publication and baseball prospect site gushed about the baseball skills and work ethic of Lindor so much that no matter where you read about him, you couldn’t find a single flaw written.
Besides being a first round pick for an organization that has struggled to select first round talent in the last 10 years (save for the last three) can add a lot of pressure.
Give credit to Lindor though, because the hype or pressure seems to be weightless on him. In fact, he embraces the hype in such a positive way, that it makes it hard to believe he won’t even turn 19 until after the 2012 season has ended.
“It’s an honor, that people aren’t saying anything bad about me. But it doesn’t matter who I am or what round I went or if I was a free agent. I still have to behave like everyone else and represent the Cleveland Indians and prove to them that they made a good decision by giving me the chance to play ball.”
It would be so easy for him to buy his own hype and just let his talent and money talk. He’s young (he was drafted by an MLB team before he could even vote), has money and has everyone raving about him. But it’s the opposite. If anything he works like he was undrafted free agent just fighting to stay on the team.
In addition to all the accolades that come along with being a first round pick, he has also has a Gold Medal from the World Youth Championship in 2009. He had three hits and three RBIs in the semi-final game and had three more hits, and scored the game winning run to clinch the Gold Medal in a 7-6 win over Cuba.
“It’s something I wish everyone could go through, not everyone gets to do it. Everyone on that team was really close and everyone did something to help”, Lindor said of his experience playing for Team USA.
Lindor got to play for team USA because he moved to Florida at 12, after being born and living in Caguas, Puerto Rico. As a native of Puerto Rico, Lindor speaks Spanish and said moving to the US was a big adjustment because of the language.
“Thank god for my family and friends. They helped me and I had a lot of faculty (at school) that were willing to help.”
Shortly after moving stateside, Lindor began to learn to switch hit. He is a natural right hander, but developed the skill at 14 years old.
In addition to his gold medal, Lindor also did something that even hitters at the highest level will tell you is hard to do: win a home run derby at Petco Park in San Diego.
In the 2010 Aflac All-American game, he hit four home runs in the spacious California park.
“I don’t want to say it was luck, but I ran into a few. I’m not a power hitter but everyone is going to drive the ball, everyone just needs to know how to get behind it.”
While Lindor is modest about the accomplishment, there are some very accomplished hitters who will say that it’s a very hard ballpark to hit in. He did it at 17.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Lindor is his work ethic and great attitude. After he was drafted, he was able to spend five games at the rookie level, with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. Already armed with a great work ethic, which he often credits his parents for, he learned an even more important lesson.
“It’s quality, not quantity. You can’t do everything every day. You can’t hit 500 or 600 balls, but 50-60 real good ones. I just took away how everyone worked there.”
Remember, that all this is coming from a first round pick, given $2.9 million, the highest bonus the Indians have ever paid a position player, and he hadn’t even turned 18 when he signed his contract.
As of Tuesday, Lindor is hitting a solid .308 in 11 games, hitting mostly second in the lineup for Dave Wallace’s ball club.
“He has his priorities in line. He’s very mature and has a lot of energy, and always has a smile on his face”, Wallace says of his shortstop.
Everyday Lindor comes to work, he has a smile on his face and has been called a "cage rat", for spending a lot of time on his craft. He once said in high school that he couldn’t wait for class to end to get to the field to play.
When you watch Lindor play and see his reactions, you can tell he loves the game he works very hard off of the field, so he can improve on it.
He has the maturity of someone who’s been in the game for years and still knows he has a lot to prove.
When the Indians picked him 8th overall, no one questioned the pick or were surprised by it. It’s a small sample size, but so far he’s been as advertised and is proving it to everyone who watches him work every day.