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Naquin conquers the world--EHC Podcast 44

  (Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer)  
It's not often that a #1 draft pick is considered an underdog. If ever there was a case, a good case could be made for the Cleveland Indians' Tyler Naquin, who was selected by the Tribe with the 15th pick of the 2012 MLB Draft. While I wouldn't go so far as to say that nobody thought he was deserving of a first round pick, many felt that he went 10-15 positions higher than he should have.

[Read Mike Hattery's in depth look at why Naquin's minor league & spring numbers were important to his call up]

Many experts felt that Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonetti were looking at Naquin as an under-slot pick, so that they could save their allotted budget for later rounds. It turned out to be true, as the Indians only spent $1.75 million of their $2.25 million on Naquin, and then spent some of the extra money on their second pick, Mitch Brown. Brown was entitled $690,000, and he ultimately received $800,000, which was partially based on the money they saved with Naquin. In other words, his under-slot signing allowed the Tribe to over-slot later in the top ten, and ultimately, later in the draft as well.

[PLEASE RATE EHC: THE PODCAST ON ITUNES! GIVE US A 4-OR-5-STAR RATING, AND GIVE US A REVIEW! ONCE WE RECEIVE ENOUGH REVIEWS TO RECEIVE A RATING, WE'LL SELECT A WINNER OF THE PEOPLE WE CAN SEE HAVE LEFT REVIEWS TO CHOOSE EITHER TERRY PLUTO AND TOM HAMILTON'S "GLORY DAYS IN TRIBE TOWN," OR JONATHAN KNIGHTS: "THE MAKING OF MAJOR LEAGUE!]

What was most distressing regarding Naquin was that he didn't stand out in a system that has struggled to produce Major League players for years. He was a good defender, and one could say even a plus defender, but did he stand out in the system? Not really. Offensively, he improved from year-to-year, but didn't showcase real speed or power, and while his OBP was solid, he seemed to strike out a little too much.

But there was improvement.

Unfortunately, over the past two seasons, Naquin's seasons were shortened by injuries. No, these weren't injuries that could be considered chronic. A hand and wrist injury ended his 2014 season after only 76 games at Double A Akron, but he was heading towards a better season. As EHC contributor Al Ciammaichella noted in his yearly prospect piece.
He posted the highest AVG, OBP and SLG of his young career, showing htat the adjustments that he made to his swing in 2013 helped generate more power without sacrificing contact.
His splits that year were .313/.361/.424, and it's too bad that he didn't have the full season to break out.

He opened the 2015 season back in Double A Akron, and then blew the doors open with a .348/.419/.468 split in his first 34 games. He earned a promotion to Columbus, and rolled out a .353 OBP, with six homers and six stolen bases. Then came the injuries, thanks to aggressive defense, plowing into the outfield wall. While he would come back from that, it was only for a week, before he was shut down a week later, with a hip injury, for the year.

Naquin rolled into the 2016 Major League season trying to earn a spot on the big league roster. The 24-year old outfielder was reported to be in the running for an outfield spot way back in December of 2015, when Terry Pluto noted that he "would be given a shot to make the team." Even with Brantley injured, this seemed a bit of a stretch, especially after the team signed Marlon Byrd to a minor league deal just this past week.

But centerfield.

Who was going to play centerfield?

Turns out Naquin's raging spring earned him a spot on the early 25-man roster. In today EHC podcast, Jim Pete and Mike Hattery discuss Naquin, the reasoning behind his roster-making shuffle, what it means for the rest of the outfield, and how the outfield will shake out once Brantley comes back, and if Lonnie Chisenhall is hurt.

Here's the audio:



Here's the video:



And here's some more audio, from podcast 33, in which Hatman, SportsNom and I rant and rave about Naquin for 30 minutes, starting at the 12:30 mark. It's good, I promise:

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