07/08/12 8:23 PM ET
Lindor, Aguilar impress in Futures Game
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
This is the type of stage Lindor craves.
"This is the same game I've been playing since I was little," said Lindor, who then pointed up to the nose-bleed seats. "The only difference is they've got a few more decks. Other than that, it's the same thing."
This was not the same thing, though. This was Sunday's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in Kansas City, where a select group of baseball's elite prospects provided an opening act for Tuesday's All-Star Game. Lindor and fellow Cleveland prospect Jesus Aguilar were named to the World Team.
Aguilar -- a 22-year-old first baseman out of Venezuela -- started for the World Team and hit seventh in their 17-5 loss to the United States' squad. The first baseman finished 1-for-3, drawing a walk and scoring in the second inning before later drilling a pitch from Orioles prospect Dylan Bundy into center for a base hit in the fourth.
Lindor, 18, came off the bench and went 1-for-1 with single in his first taste of an All-Star experience. In the seventh inning, Lindor pulled the first pitch he saw from Mariners pitching prospect Taijuan Walker into right field for a base hit.
"Lindor is a great player for that venue," said Ross Atkins, the Indians vice president for player development. "He likes the spotlight. He likes the expectations. You can watch him in one game and see why people are so excited about him. You don't need to see four and five games."
In four or five minutes of conversation, it is easy to see that Lindor also exudes confidence.
"I know what I'm capable of doing," Lindor said matter-of-factly.
When he was 12 years old, Lindor came to the United States from Puerto Rico in order to face better baseball competition. He spoke no English upon arriving to the U.S. and enrolled at Montverde Academy, a Florida boarding school north of Orlando that draws its students from around the globe.
These days, Lindor is well-spoken in two languages and developing into a leader on and off the baseball field. The shortstop is currently playing for Class A Lake County, and impressing Cleveland's evaluators. That includes Indians manager Manny Acta, who spent an off-day watching a Lake County game earlier this season.
"He stands out a little bit, despite being just out of high school," Acta said at the time. "He's got great body language and a lot of confidence in himself. You can see it. Regardless of the situation he's in, he looks like he's under control. He's going to be a good one."
Through 74 games this season, the slender switch-hitting Lindor has posted a .263 average with four home runs, 15 doubles, three triples, 18 stolen bases, 25 RBIs, 32 walks and 50 runs scored for Lake County. Along the way, he has posted a .348 on-base percentage, while playing strong defense in the field.
It has been a solid showing that earned him a spot in the annual Futures showcase.
"It's an honor. I'm happy to be here," said Lindor, who estimated that nearly a dozen family and friends were in the stands for the Futures Game. "I'm excited. I'm learning from all the guys. I'm learning from all the coaches. I'm picking everything up. I'm just trying to absorb everything.
"This is going to help me along the way. This is more experience. I can't ask for anything better."
There is no arguing the fact that Lindor is Cleveland's top prospect. He was ranked as such in MLB.com's Top 100 list (26th overall) entering the season. Aguilar, on the other hand, has been an under-the-radar run producer for the past two seasons for the Tribe. He did not make the cut for the Top 100 rankings, and was listed 20th among the Indians' prospects.
The 6-foot-3, 255-pound Aguilar might be less heralded, but he has turned into one of the top power-hitting prospects in Cleveland's system.
Through 80 games for high Class A Carolina, the right-handed-hitting Aguilar has hit .305 with a .908 on-base plus slugging percentage. He has launched 11 home runs with 21 doubles, two triples, 45 RBIs, 50 runs and 34 walks. Aguilar has belted 34 homers over the past two years after having just 18 in his first three professional seasons for Cleveland.
"I don't try to do too much," Aguilar said with a shrug. "I've got power. When you've got power, you've got power. You don't have to try to do too much. That's the key for me. ... The ball just started flying off my bat [the last two years]. I just try to make hard contact."
Asked about being selected for the Futures Game, Aguilar smiled wide.
"I'm really excited," he said. "It's a big moment for me."
Lindor echoed that sentiment.
"What's better than coming out to the field and doing what you love to do every day?" Lindor said. "Especially with a bunch of great guys -- future All-Stars. This is awesome. I'm excited. I'm honored to be here."