Naquin, Lindor form potent 1-2 punch

Top Indians prospects combine for six hits, score four runs

By Robert Emrich / Special to | April 5, 2013 7:40 PM ET

The Carolina Mudcats don't just have the makings of a dynamic duo at the top of their lineup, they've got a little bit of a "bromance" forming.

Francisco Lindor and Tyler Naquin, two of the Indians' top six prospects, combined for six hits and four runs scored out of the top two spots in the lineup Friday as Carolina cruised past the Winston-Salem Dash, 10-1, in its season opener.

Naquin, drafted 15th overall last year, drove in four runs in his full-season debut. He hit an RBI single in the second inning, then slugged a three-run homer -- his first as a pro -- in the third, adding a double in the fifth.

"The home run, I was just looking to get something to drive and I was able to get my hands extended through it," the 21-year-old center fielder said. "My hands are my best attribute -- when I can get them extended, I've got some pop."

Naquin spent his debut season with short-season Mahoning Valley, batting .270 with 13 RBIs in 36 games. The Indians decided to skip him a level and start the season in the Class A Advanced Carolina League.

"I'm blessed just to be healthy and to have the opportunity to play in the opener," he said. "That's all God's plan for me. Me being healthy, me being able to play and being able to lead off and to get the opportunity to play."

Lindor also went 3-for-4 with a triple and a stolen base. A 2011 first-round pick, he combines with Naquin to give the Mudcats a unique combo at the top of the order.

"It's not often that you have two first-rounders in the lineup batting 1-2," the Texas A&M product said. "We never talk about, 'Hey, we're first-rounders', you don't hear that from us. We just go out and play hard and let our abilities take over. You're still the same guy, even if you go 0-for-4.

"Lindor is a great player and his performance, whether he does bad or good, just shows what kind of player he is."

The lovefest is mutual, according to Lindor.

"He's a great hitter. He had a helluva night tonight and I think he's going to be a great player throughout his career," the 19-year-old shortsthop from Puerto Rico said. "It's awesome, he's a great player. It don't matter what pick he was, the kid is a humble kid. He has a great personality and he can play the game. He's a great guy."

Known for his defense, Lindor watched Naquin make a diving catch in the fifth inning.

"It was awesome. I knew he was going to catch all of them," Lindor said. "To see him take charge of the outfield, anything that goes up I know he's going to get or be pretty close to getting it. It's fun, of course, watching him make those great plays."

Naquin has a pretty simple philosophy when it comes to his defensive responsibilities.

"If they're in the air, it's my job to catch them," he said.

Bryson Miles chipped in two hits and scored twice, while Indians No. 7 prospect Tony Wolters plated a pair of runs with two sacrifice flies.

Cody Anderson (1-0) got the win after allowing a run on four hits while striking out four over six innings. Owen Dew, J.D. Reichenbach and Michael Goodnight combined on three innings of hitless relief.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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