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Cleveland Indians 2013 Top Prospects No. 3: Dorssys Paulino

Dorssys Paulino is a bit of an enigmatic prospect, at least to me. A rare splash in the international talent pool, the Tribe invested $1.1 million into the then-16-year-old and the early returns have been positive, to say the least.

Slashing .355/.404/.610 in rookie ball will catch anyone’s attention, and start to get people interested when they realize that it’s a 17-year-old. That’s exactly what Paulino did in 172 at-bats in 2012, prompting a promotion to Mahoning Valley where he played in 15 games to wrap up the season in which he held his own.

Now in Lake County, the Tribe has certainly been aggressive with the youngster, seeing as he’s only 18.

But the enigmatic aspect of Paulino is that he’s just on the cusp of being a known commodity. Largely left off top prospect lists entering the year, but those who did get a good look were impressed such as Keith Law who named Paulino his 56th-best prospect. That means there’s still a lot of the industry that is split on Paulino, as his skill set is certainly impressive, but holes and questions remain.

The largest question is Paulino’s future position. The Tribe’s middle infield depth aside, some see Paulino having to move out of shortstop because of his struggles there with 25 errors in 46 games in 2012. Paulino has the range for shortstop and an above-average arm, but hands of stone that led to a lot of fumbled grounders last year. Luckily, that’s the easiest defensive deficiency to fix with repetitions.

If shortstop doesn’t work out, third base could be an option as well, though the question then becomes will hit bat fit there? His slugging percentage of .610 in Arizona last year certainly says yes, but I’m not one to look too closely into small sample sizes. His swing is compact and more line-drive oriented which leads to a high average, but not as much power. Paulino could be fine at third, but not All-Star-caliber with his bat like he would be at shortstop. Second base could be more likely, but that would also waste his best defensive attribute in his arm.

But defense is not something to worry about for the next three years, as Paulino will hit regardless of where he is in the infield. His future hit tool grades out as a 70 to many, and he’ll at least be a doubles machine with an average above .300 and enough power to make your fantasy team happy.

Things have been moving fast for Paulino to this point, so expect it to slow down now with the likes of Ronny Rodriguez and Francisco Lindor in front of him. The Tribe will try to work on his defense so he can stick at shortstop long-term, but if he keeps hitting like he has in the past it might be hard to keep him in the minors.

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