Eastern Wake: Sports

Five Mudcats invited to Major League spring training camp

The Cleveland Indians extended non-roster invitations to Major League spring training camp to five players that starred for the Carolina Mudcats in 2013.

The list includes Francisco Lindor, Tyler Naquin, Joey Wendle, Tony Wolters and Jake Lowery. The Indians gave non-roster invitations to a total of 19 players.

Lindor, 20, was named the top prospect in the Indians’ Player Development System by Baseball America for the second consecutive year after a stellar 2013 campaign. The eighth overall selection in the 2011 draft, Lindor garnered Carolina League All-Star honors after hitting .306 (100-327) in 83 games with the Mudcats. He tallied 19 doubles, six triples, one home run and drove in 27 runs while scoring 51 times.

The 5-11 switch hitter participated in his second XM future’s game and was promoted to Double-A Akron on July 16. His combined .303 batting average between Carolina and Akron was the best among Tribe farmhands.

Naquin, 22, is coming off a breakout year in his first full professional season. The Spring, Texas, native played 108 games with the Mudcats, recording a .277 batting average with nine home runs and 42 RBIs. Forming a potent one-two punch with Lindor at the top of the order, Naquin scored 69 times and stole 14 bases en route to a CL midseason All-Star nod.

Naquin was drafted by the Indians fifth overall in 2012 from Texas A&M University. He was promoted to Akron on August 14 where he played the final 18 games of the season. The outfielder also turned heads while playing 27 games in the prestigious Arizona Fall League. He hit .339 (39-115) with four doubles, a triple, one home run and notched 18 RBIs for the Surprise Saguaros. His performance earned him an AFL MVP nomination and a spot on the AFL Top Prospects Team.

Naquin enters the 2014 season ranked as the fourth best prospect in the Indians organization according to Baseball America, and was labeled the Indians Best Defensive Outfielder in the publication’s annual Best Tools survey.

Wendle, 23, was named the 2013 Lou Boudreau Award winner, symbolic of the top position player in the Indians Player Development system. The 5-11, left-handed hitting infielder spent all of last summer with the Mudcats where he hit .295 (122-413) with 32 doubles, 5 triples, 64 RBIs and an .884 OPS.

Originally drafted by the Indians in the sixth round of the 2012 First Year Player Draft, Wendle was selected to the Carolina League Postseason All-Star Team. He enters the 2014 campaign ranked as the 17th best prospect in the Indians’ PDS according to Baseball America. Wendle hit .311 (19-61) with seven extra base hits, 12 RBIs and an .863 OPS for the Surprise in the Arizona Fall League after the season.

Wolters, 21, enters the season ranked as the 25th best prospect in the Indians organization according to Baseball America after transitioning from infielder to catcher in 2013.

Wolters spent the first month of the season at extended spring training before spending the remainder of the campaign with the Mudcats. Originally a third round pick (87th overall) by the Indians in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, Wolters threw out 28 percent of would-be base stealers, right in line with the Carolina League average of 30 percent.

Lowery, 23, was originally selected by the Indians in the fourth round (128th overall) of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft and split the 2013 campaign hitting a combined .264 (73-277) with 23 doubles, seven home runs and 33 RBIs in 92 games between Carolina and Akron.

The 6-0, 200-pound catcher retired 28.1 percent (27-96) of the runners attempting to steal off him, and recently completed an eight-game stint for Peoria in the Arizona Fall League (.240, 6-25, five RBIs).

The Carolina Mudcats, the Advanced-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, will begin their third season of play in the Carolina League on April 4. They will host the Potomac Nationals on Opening Day.