A quick look atop the Carolina League leaderboards confirms Francisco Lindor's potential stardom. A quick chat with him reveals not only how much he wants to win, but how willing he is to do what it takes to do so.
The Indians' top prospect went 3-for-3 with a pair of walks and two runs scored Saturday night, helping Class A Advanced Carolina rally for an 8-7 victory over Winston-Salem.
Lindor added his 12th stolen base of the season as he reached safely a season-high five times. He collected a double and two singles, but no hit was more important than the one he wasn't trying to get.
After the Dash scored five runs in the top of the eighth inning to take a 6-5 lead, the 19-year-old shortstop came to bat with the tying run on second and none out after Tyler Naquin singled and advanced on a balk by reliever Terance Marin. Lindor dropped down a perfect bunt, beating the throw to put the go-ahead run on base.
"I wasn't really thinking that I got on base five times, that wasn't on my mind," he said. "My mind-set is to do whatever it takes to help the team win. I was just trying to get the guy over. I've got [Joe] Wendle behind me, and he's a great hitter and he's seeing the ball well. I was lucky enough to get a base hit out of it."
It proved lucky for the Mudcats, too. After Lindor stole second, Wendle flied to left for the first out. Jordan Smith walked to load the bases and Tony Wolters hit into a forceout that scored Naquin with the tying run. Lindor raced home on shortstop Chris Curley's throwing error to put the Mudcats ahead and Wolters scored on Bo Greenwell's single.
After blowing a four-run lead, Lindor said the team was confident it could come back.
"We have a great group of guys, we don't quit," the Puerto Rico native said. "We knew we were capable of coming back. We had the top of the lineup to lead off the eighth, we don't quit. We were doing whatever it took, and at the end of the day we got the 'W.'"
Despite a perfect night at the plate, Lindor was his own worst critic. Well-regarded for his glovework, he committed a pair of throwing errors.
"I didn't help the team that much the way I wanted to on the defense side," he said. "I don't want to say frustrating -- I don't get frustrated. It gets me mad. The pitcher made a great pitch and the ball comes to me and I make an error, that's on me. He did whatever it took and I didn't finish the play."
Considering the way he's been playing, Mudcats pitchers probably will find it in their hearts to forgive Lindor. MLB.com's No. 13 overall prospect ranks second in the Carolina League with a .335 batting average and is fourth with 81 total bases. Perhaps the most impressive statistic, however, is that he's drawn 21 walks while striking out only 18 times.
Naquin, the Indians' No. 6 prospect, went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI. Batting ahead of Lindor, the 22-year-old outfielder forms a potent 1-2 punch for the Mudcats -- he's second in the league with 32 runs scored, third with 84 total bases and tied for second with 27 walks.
"We try and set the tone whenever we lead off an inning," Lindor said. "We might be the top guys in that inning, so we do whatever it take to get on base and score the runs."
Carolina starter Nick Pasquale allowed a run on two hits over six innings but did not figure in the decision. J.D. Reichenbach (2-2) retired two batters and was charged with two runs on two hits but got the win.
Kevan Smith homered and drove in four runs for the Dash.