If you happened to watch the postseason, you probably saw Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha shutting down opponents (with the exception of Game 6 of the World Series). Wacha was drafted 19th overall in the 2012 draft, four spots after the Indians selected Tyler Naquin 15th overall. (Naquin and Wacha were also teammates at Texas A&M). It’s far, far too early to determine whether or not Naquin over Wacha was a bad choice. I’ve had some concerns though, particularly since a lot of scouts have said they were surprised Naquin went in the first round, and that he projects more as a fourth outfielder. Of course, those predictions could be incorrect; but with the Indians’ long list of first round mistakes during the 2000s, I’m obviously likely to be a bit paranoid.
That’s why I was pleased to hear that Naquin has been performing well during the Arizona Fall League as a member of the Surprise Saguaros. It’s an offense-heavy league, and obviously a small and limited sample size; at the same time, it’s still good to see. Naquin is hitting .364/.429/.568; he is fifth in the league in batting average. He earned player of the week honors for the league’s third week as he went 8 for 20 and had a league-high seven RBI. At one point, Naquin had a 13-game hitting streak during AFL action.
Naquin was also selected to serve as DH on the “west” all star team for the AFL on Saturday, November 1 at Surprise Stadium, alongside highly-touted prospects like Byron Buxton from the Minnesota Twins and Delino DeShields, Jr. from the Houston Astros. The west won 9-2 and Naquin went 1 for 4 with a run scored.
Naquin spent the 2013 season splitting time between the Class-A Carolina Mudcats (108 games) and the Double-A Akron Aeros (18 games). With Carolina, Naquin hit .277/.345/.424 with 9 home runs and 14 stolen bases; in Akron he hit .225/.271/.300 with 1 home run and 1 stolen base. The 22-year-old will likely start the season back in Akron with the newly named Rubber Ducks.