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Willmar's Jordan Smith assigned to Class-A Lake County

Willmar native and Cleveland Indians prospect Jordan Smith practices Feb. 8 at the Kennedy Elementary gym in Willmar. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton

WILLMAR -- Jordan Smith is moving his way up the ladder.

The Cleveland Indians prospect and Willmar native finished up his first spring training this weekend and was assigned to the Lake County Captains on Tuesday.

The Captains, based in the Cleveland suburb of Eastlake, Ohio, are in the low Class-A Midwest League, the lowest class of the minors that plays a full season.

The Captains' season opener will be Thursday at Fort Wayne (Ind.).

Smith said he originally thought he might be assigned to the high Class-A Carolina Mudcats, but the Indians sent him to Lake County instead.

"A lot of big league guys got bumped down more than usual, so it messed up everyone in the minor leagues," he said. "I'm just thinking about the season here and we'll see what happens."

It will also be Smith's first season in a full-season league.

"It's a grind and everyone has to do it," he said. "Just have to play hard every day and plug away."

Smith spent last season with the short-season Mahoning Valley Scrappers.

He was a New York-Penn League All Star for the Scrappers, tying for sixth in the league with a .300 batting average and getting on base at a .403 clip which was good for third in the league.

Smith played primarily at third base for the Scrappers, but he said the Indians are planning to move him around a bit this season.

"I'm still going to play some third but some outfield as well," he said.

Smith reported to spring training on Feb. 28, his first as a professional.

"It was good to be with all the coaches and all your buddies," he said.

He reported to early camp and said he started with a week of just drills and practice.

"When everyone else reported it was all games," he said. "I faced some pitchers like (Cincinnati Reds') Aroldis Chapman and (Chicago Cubs') Ted Lilly. Chapman struck me out."

Notes: The Willmar Stingers will be giving away a Smith bobblehead to the first 300 fans at the July 27 game; "It's a cool thing and I'm excited for it," Smith said "It was really cool to play for the hometown crowd." ... Smith will be sharing the Captains' infield with Indians' top shortstop prospect Francisco Lindor; Lindor was ranked No. 1 in the Indians' system by most experts and No. 32 in all of baseball by

Ben Brewster

Ben Brewster covers the Willmar Stingers and other area sports, as well as laying out the daily sports section cover for the West Central Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @benbrewster.

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