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MLB Rumor Central: Naquin could win center field job

Following Abraham Almonte's 80-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, Tyler Naquin has emerged as a "serious contender" to be the Cleveland Indians' starting center fielder this season, Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal writes.

Naquin, the Indians' No. 7-ranked prospect per ESPN's Keith Law, is off to a hot start this spring, hitting .444 with two triples in 18 at-bats. The former first-round pick has been opening eyes with his play, including those of manager Terry Francona.

"The first week, he’s been very impressive, and that’s good because you’re looking for that," Francona said. "But I don’t think you just make your team out the first week of camp, either."

Among those Naquin will be competing with for a roster spot are Collin Cowgill, Joey Butler, Will Venable, Robbie Grossman, Michael Choice and Shane Robinson.

With Michael Brantley still expected to miss time following offseason shoulder surgery, the Indians will need as much offense as they can get to start the season, which Naquin can provide. The 24-year-old owns a .287/.360/.417 slash line in four minor league seasons.