NILES - Any No. 1 draft pick has loads of expectations on him, but Tyler Naquin may have a bit more.
The 21-year-old outfielder from Texas A&M was called the "Best Pure Hitter" and tapped with the "Best Arm" by Baseball America.
This season, the Cleveland Indians will start him off with the Scrappers and manager Ted Kubiak, who has read the scouting report and is ready to see him perform.
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Former Texas A&M?outfielder Tyler Naquin, the Cleveland Indians’ top selection in the June amateur draft, talks with reporters Saturday during the Scrappers’ media day.
"I saw all that in the scouting report," he said. "That's pretty glowing, so let's hope that's right - let's hope that works."
For Naquin, that type of praise is almost too overwhelming to process, so he's just going to keep his approach simple.
"I just have to be myself - and not try and do too much, like hit too many home runs. I believe home runs and power is going to come," he said. "I just have to play within myself, and relax and let it all happen."
"Letting it happen" is pretty much the basis of Naquin's approach at the plate. He knows professional pitchers will come with more sliders and other breaking balls, so he thinks it's even more important to keep things simple.
"I just have to relax, take what pitchers give me, and be ready to hit the ball anywhere in the park," he said. "I have to hit what I see, but I think the smaller strike zones in the pros will help me a bit, because I like to take a lot of pitches and work counts."
Naquin will move from right field to play center field for the Scrappers - and perhaps the Indians in the near future.
"I played center field my entire life right up through high school, and then right field in college to try and shut down the running game with my arm strength," he said. "But I believe center field is a little easier than playing right field because you don't have to worry about the slices or the walls. You see everything like pitch location, and you get a better jump on the ball."
Kubiak thinks Naquin has the tools and experience to make the jump, but he'll still face great challenges along the way.
"Any time you move a guy from one position to another, there's always a transition to be made, and it's not that easy - it may look like that from the stands," he said. "It doesn't work like that, and then there's the mindset. I mean, you got the No. 1 pick coming in here, so he's under pressure because of that. I've seen that happen in the past - he's going to try and do things he shouldn't do. It'll take him a while to calm down, so we'll see what he'll do."
For Naquin, it's all a matter of keeping it in perspective.
"I'm just glad to get my career started," he said. "They want to put that much money into you and give you the opportunity of a lifetime, and God blessed you with the ability, so just go out and play, and try and work your way up as fast as you can."