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Francona impressed by top prospect Lindor


MESA, Ariz. -- Terry Francona has worked hard at familiarizing himself with the organization's players since taking over as Indians manager. On Monday, he got a close look at Francisco Lindor, arguably the farm system's top prospect.

"That was a treat," Francona said following the Indians' 13-5 Cactus League win over the Cubs. "We knew he was going to come and play nine innings. Getting to know him, and watching him play, it's fun. He's a joy. He's going to be a good player."

Cleveland is currently without shortstops Asdrubal Cabrera (Venezuela) and Mike Aviles (Puerto Rico) due to the World Baseball Classic. That has opened the door for playing time for a few of the team's Minor Leaguers, including prospects such as Lindor, Ronny Rodriguez and Tony Wolters.

In Monday's victory at Hohokam Park, the 19-year-old Lindor went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and a run scored for the Tribe. Lindor started at shortstop, where he made a handful of plays look easy during the game, and hit out of the ninth spot in the lineup.

Hours before the game began, Francona was itching to get a look at Lindor over nine innings.

"For me, that's a reason for us to be excited today," Francona said. "That will be really fun for us."

Lindor was Cleveland's first-round selection (eighth overall) in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.

In two professional seasons, the shortstop has hit .259 with a .352 on-base percentage and a .354 slugging percentage in 127 games between short-season Mahoning Valley and Low A Lake County. Along the way, Lindor has compiled six home runs, 24 doubles, three triples, 28 stolen bases, 44 RBIs and 87 runs scored.

When Francona took the job with Cleveland, he made a point to reach out to many of his new players. He was given a list of names with contact information that included Lindor. The young shortstop is not on the team's roster, and is a couple years away from the Majors, but Francona made the call anyway.

"He's one of the first guys I talked to," Francona said. "He's such a nice kid. He's always smiling. And he's obviously got a boatload of talent. He just needs to play. He's so young. For us for our staff to get a chance to watch him, even for nine innings, is really enjoyable."

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