The Indians have an embarrassment of riches as far as middle infield prospects are concerned and Joey Wendle is no exception.
On the sixth day of Christmas, Chris Antonetti gave to me,
Yet another middle infielder.
Wendle was drafted out of West Chester University in 2012. Coming out of a Division II school Wendle was signed as an under-slot pick but was someone that the Indians scouting department had targeted early in the scouting process and believed had the bat of a Division I player.
Wendle delivered on that belief in 2012 posting a .327/.375/.469 slash line over 267 plate appearances at Mahoning Valley. He backed up that showing with another strong effort at Carolina in 2013 where his average dipped but he displayed more power bashing 16 home runs.
The Indians scouting department always believed that Wendle had an advanced hit tool, he makes good contact and barrels up the ball extremely well. He profiles as a offensive-first second basemen, who will provide adequate defense with an average arm.
Moving forward he has two obstacles to overcome. First, as an offensive-oriented second basemen he must continue to hit at every level. Wendle’s defense will not be enough to carry him through and if he stops producing offensively he will quickly be passed over. Secondly, he must find a way to stand out in a crowded pack of middle infielders. Unfortunately for Wendle the Indians front office has several options for second base, including Jason Kipnis. That means that Wendle, who was almost strictly a second basemen at West Chester, will need to find a secondary position. The most likely options are third base and a corner outfield spot.
Wendle continued to hit this fall in the Arizona Fall League where he posted a .311/.371/.492 slash line. I expect that next spring Wendle will be assigned to Akron and form the keystone combo with top prospect Francisco Lindor until Lindor is promoted to Columbus later in the season. It will be interesting to see how the Tribe brass handles Wendle. There have been multiple occasions already where it appeared would be difficult for Wendle to get at-bats surrounded by so many middle infield prospects but Wendle has just continued to hit, earn playing time and prove the Indians scouts right in the process.