Lindor Or Paulino: Who’s The Indians Future SS

In Arizona, the Cleveland Indians were a “must see” franchise for me. A few years ago, their Lake County (Ohio) affiliate left the South Atlantic League for the convenience of the Midwest League. This created a blind spot in my scouting coverage remedied by my time in the Cactus League.

Current buzz surrounding the Indians organization is centered around a pair of young shortstop prospects in Dorssys Paulino and Francisco Lindor.

Lindor, a 2011 first rounder posted a .257/.352/.355 triple slash line in Single-A.

Paulino combined for a .333/.380/.558 triple slash line across two levels of short season baseball as a 17-year old.

There’s no question about both being top flight prospects within the organization, but the debate over the shortstop of the future continues to be a hot topic.

At Goodyear Park, both shortstops worked out on neighboring fields. Each began with stretching, followed by infield and batting practice.

Lindor playfully moved around the infield toying with ground balls like a cat playing with yarn. His hand speed and ability to adjust to hops was so impressive, I spent the rest of the week referring to him as “Bruce Lee Lindor”.

In game action, he charged a ground ball to his right, fielded it on the edge of the infield grass line and zipped the ball to first flashing plus arm strength. Lindor also took command on a popup to shallow left field without hesitation as if he’d been the Indians shortstop for years.

Batting practice afforded a long look at Lindor from both sides of the plate. From the right side, Lindor was short and quick to the ball. His flat plane swing will result in line drives and gap power, but Lindor will need to add lift for balls to leave the park with any regularity.

Dave Laurila caught up with Lindor last season who had this to say about his right-handed swing.

“It’s my natural side, so I definitely feel that I can get behind the ball a lot better. Like, if you show me something, I feel like, “Yeah, yeah, this pitch. I’m going to drive it; I’m going to hit it out.” Now that I’ve been doing so many reps from the left side, I feel like I can do that, too. I have more home runs as a lefty — obviously I have more at bats as a lefty — but I feel that I can drive the ball from either side of the plate.”

Lindor’s swing has more length from the left side, but so do many switch hitters. His hands are still quick to the ball, but the longer swing plane may help Lindor’s power projection as he continues to gain experience.

Boosting Lindor’s all-around game is a frame which has added strength in the off-season. He faded in the second half of 2012, but I doubt 2013 will be a repeat performance.

Paulino will open the season a level behind Lindor, but his hitting ability is more advanced. in batting practice, he peppered line drives to all fields displaying both advanced bat control and gap power. Paulino has a compact build and pairs this with simple swing mechanics. It’s easy to envision the shortstop with a plus contact tool and average power.

Add to this a three-hit effort on the back fields and I’m intrigued. I’d rank him amongst the best pure hitters scouted in Arizona without blinking.

In the field, Paulino has the hands and arm to stick at shortstop. However, his body is closer to “stout” than lean and athletic. In another organization, he might stick at the position for a time. With the Indians, Paulino does not have the defensive projection to jump Lindor on the depth chart. Consider Lindor the true shortstop of the future.

The Indians are in an enviable position as Lonnie Chisenhall, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis form a young infield trio by Major League standards. As they enter arbitration/free agency, Paulino and Lindor will infuse the Major League team with inexpensive, talented middle infielders.

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Mike Newman is the Owner/Managing Editor ofROTOscouting, a subscription site focused on baseball scouting, baseball prospects and fantasy baseball. Follow me onTwitter. Likeus on Facebook.Subscribeto my YouTube Channel.

12 Responses to “Lindor Or Paulino: Who’s The Indians Future SS”

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  1. dp says:

    Would Paulino be a better fit as a 2B or 3B? Perhaps in the outfield? It’s a good problem to have, this.

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    • fjtorres says:

      It’s going to depend on Chisenhall and Kipnis.
      Right now 3B looks like the bigger long-term hole but if Chisenhall finally arrives (looking less likely as time goes on) then Kipnis might end up in the outfield since he’s merely adequate at 2B. Or at utility if his bat doesn”t reach his early promise.
      Main thing is both Lindor and Paulino are 2 years away, minimum.
      Time for things to sort themselves out. That is why Mike Aviles in on the roster.

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      • Mike Newman says:

        I’ve actually been impressed with Chisenhall every time I’ve seen him. He’ll be a pretty good player in the end. Obviously, Kipnis is already a good one. Paulino could play any of the positions mentioned.

        There’s definitely time for this to play out.

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      • RotoSaurus says:

        The Tribe also has another top 5 prospect named Jose Ramirez… and guess what? Yep, he’s a MI too – 2B. If I had to guess, I’d say their 2016 lineup would be Ramirez at 2B, Lindor at SS, Chisenhall at 3B (backup option Paulino) and Paulino at DH… though it’s likely Ramirez could be traded as he’ll be a valuable piece we can use to get another SP

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  2. Cidron says:

    These things have a way of sorting themselves out, whether it be by injury, trade, player capping out at a level (cant quite adjust to next), etc etc.

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  3. mwash1983 says:

    I will say this, Paulino reminds me a bit of Robinson Cano based on what I saw last year in the NYPA. Reaching high, yes, but I liked him a lot.

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  4. Rebel says:

    Mwash-you are not alone. You totally took the words right out of my momouth. I have been thinking the same thing of him since I first saw him. I think the Indians have a stud on their hands.

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  5. camfrommaine41 says:

    Tribes minor league system is under rated, way too much. Jose ramirez has impressed me. Lindor looked great the game vs seattle.

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    • RotoSaurus says:

      no, their system is quite bad unfortunately. Of course there IS talent, but not nearly as much as in other systems. The problem is that all their talent is in the lower levels too – Bauer is their only elite upper level talent and they just traded for him this offseason. They have plenty of great MI and RP options, but very little in the way of CI, OF, and especially SP. Their horrible drafting is mostly to blame for this, though they’ve made some very good international signings (like Paulino) at least. Here’s a look at their top prospects (and there’s 2 MORE MIs too!)

      Trevor Bauer SP
      Francisco Lindor SS
      Dorssys Paulino SS
      Jose Ramirez 2B
      Danny Salazar SP
      Mitch Brown SP
      Tyler Naquin OF
      Ronny Rodriguez SS/OF
      Jesus Aguilar 1B
      Luigi Rodriguez OF
      Anthony Santander OF
      Trey Haley P
      Tony Wolters 2B

      Unfortunately, outside of the top 4 none can really be counted on as impact players in the MLB… Brown and Salazar don’t have #1 SP upsides and would be lucky to develop into #3s… they need SP prospects BADLY

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      • RotoSaurus says:

        oh, I didn’t include relievers in this but they have several top reliever prospects like Haley (might try again at SP though), Barnes, Hagadone, Cody Allen, SHawn Armstrong, and CC Lee

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  6. Derb says:

    Thanks! I’ve recently drafted Paulino in a sim league, and love reading any first hand scouting reports of his. I drafted him knowing he will likely leave SS, and I’m crossing my fingers that he’ll move to 2B. If his bat continues to develop, I could see him being a top 3 offensive player at 2B. At 3B, his bat should still play, but it won’t be as dominant in comparison to other players at that position.

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