Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Projecting the 2014 fate of the prospects invited to Tribe camp

The Indians invited three catchers, two infielders and an outfielder on Wednesday to their major-league spring training.

Let's ponder where Jake Lowery, Roberto Perez, Tony Wolters, Francisco Lindor, Joe Wendle and Tyler Naquin might play this season. No member of the sextet will land in Lake County unless it's on a rehab assignment.

Jake Lowery -- A 23-year-old catcher drafted in the fourth round in 2011, Lowery split time between High-A Carolina and Double-A Akron last season. Look for him to return to Akron, where he might spend the entire season.

Roberto Perez -- The 25-year-old catcher is the oldest player the Indians invited to camp on Wednesday. Yan Gomes will be the Opening Day catcher. Things get interesting behind Gomes. Carlos Santana started learning third base this winter. If Santana proves he can play both corner infield positions, he might not be needed behind the plate. Veteran Matt Treanor, the husband of volleyball star Misty May, adds catching depth. The Indians like Perez's defense and he ended last season at Triple-A Columbus. He should stick in camp for most of March for depth purposes.

Tony Wolters -- The Indians selected Wolters in the third round of the 2010 draft as an infielder. The glut of quality middle infielders in the system led to Wolters moving to catcher last season. Wolters spent all of 2013 at Carolina, where he might return as the everyday catcher.

Francisco Lindor -- The top prospect in the system, the 20-year-old Lindor ended last season at Akron. As long as they have Asdrubral Cabrera at shortstop, the Indians will keep Lindor in the minors. A return to Akron, where he hit .289 in 21 games, might be the best thing for Lindor's development. Look for him to end the season in Columbus -- or possibly Cleveland.

Joe Wendle -- The 2012 sixth-round draft pick from Division II West Chester (Pa.) University can play multiple infield positions and displayed power by hitting 16 homers in 106 games at Carolina last season. Lindor and Wendle cultivated in Carolina. Wendle will likely start the season in Akron, where he could combine with Lindor to give the Rubber Ducks a quacky middle infield duo. OK, we're banning ourselves from future duck references when discussing Akron. We promise.

Tyler Naquin -- The Indians' 2012 first-round draft pick has been solid but not spectacular, so look for him to return to Akron, where he appeared in 18 late-season games last season. This should be the season the Indians determine whether Naquin is a potential big-league starter or fourth outfielder.

-- Guy Cipriano | @newsheraldguy


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