July 2, 2016

Mostly clear

Tribe takes high school shortstop with first pick

CLEVELAND — The Indians bucked their recent trend Monday, selecting high school shortstop Francisco Lindor with their first-round pick — eighth overall — in the MLB Draft.

Cleveland had taken college pitchers — right-hander Alex White (2009) and left-hander Drew Pomeranz (2010) — with their first-round draft choices the past two years.

“Surprise, high school position player,” said the Indians director of scouting, Brad Grant. “We kind of went against it.”

Lindor, 17, was a first-team All-American during his senior season at Montverde (Fla.) Academy, where he batted .528 with six home runs and 13 RBIs.

“He’s a switch hitter who is very good from both sides of the plate,” Grant said. “He’s got a little bit of power, but more of a batting-average hitter.

“The defensive side is a premium with Francisco. He has the true ability to stay at shortstop, which you don’t see often with a high school player.”

Lindor was born in Puerto Rico before moving to Clermont, Fla. — just north of Orlando — at the age of 13.

The Indians last used their first-round draft pick to select a high school player in 2001, when the club tabbed RHP Dan Denham. The last high school position player Cleveland took in the first round came the year before in infielder Corey Smith.

Neither panned out and there is always an inherent gamble in taking a player out of high school.
“There’s always a risk with high school,” Grant said. “But at the same time, to add a shortstop to our organization was too much to pass up.”

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.