Player: Jacob Lindgren
Drafted by: New York Yankees
DOB: 03/12/1993 (Age: 21)
Height/Weight: 5'11", 205 pounds
School: Mississippi State (Junior)
Jacob Lindgren didn't exactly author a standout performance in his sophomore season at Mississippi State last year, posting a modest 4-3 record and 4.18 ERA across 14 starts, per HailState.com.
But when the Bulldogs moved Lindgren to the bullpen as a junior in 2014, his prospect status went "Boom." In 26 appearances, the left-hander posted a team-best 0.81 ERA with 100 strikeouts in 55.1 innings. For those of you scoring at home, that's a 16.33 K/9. Furthermore, he allowed only 23 hits, including just one for extra bases.
Thus does Lindgren join the Yankees organization as something they could use at the moment: a shutdown left-handed reliever.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are based on the conventional 20-80 scouting scale where 50 represents average.
At under six feet tall, Lindgren is a little on the short side for a pitcher. But with a roughly 200-pound frame, he still manages to strike an imposing figure on the mound. And though his delivery is a bit stiff and he seems to struggle with release point consistency, at least he's deceptive. Lindgren shows his back to the hitter and hides the ball well until the the point of release. That alone is going to make him tough to face, and then hitters have to worry about his stuff.
Per MLB.com's scouting report, Lindgren was only capable of sitting in the 87-91 mph range with his heat as a starter. But as a reliever, he sat in the 91-95. It's not a straight fastball either, as Baseball America (subscription required) noted that Lindgren's heater has "heavy life and arm-side run." It's an above-average pitch all the way.
Lindgren did throw a changeup and a curve as a starter, and he'll surely be busting those pitches out again if the Yankees are interested in developing him as a starter. But as a reliever, Lindgren's only secondary was his slider. And for good reason. It's a plus pitch that goes in the 82-84 range. MLB.com called it a "wipeout" slider, while Baseball America's Aaron Fitt preferred the term "vicious."
Mentioned earlier was how Lindgren seems to have trouble repeating his release point, and this is where that hurts him. He walked 25 in his 55.1 innings in 2014, a rate of 4.1 per nine innings. Ironing out Lindgren's mechanics would be one way to deal with this, but the danger there is that doing so might also make him less deceptive. Living with him may mean living with an effectively wild pitcher.
MLB Player Comparison: B.J. Ryan
B.J. Ryan is taller than Lindgren is, but the two are similar in other respects. The lefty-throwing Ryan also had a back-turning delivery that hid the ball well, and he made a very nice living for himself as a reliever with a hard fastball and wipeout slider.
Projection: Left-handed reliever
Major League ETA: 2014
It might sound nuts, but Jim Callis was saying on MLB Network immediately after Lindgren was drafted that he might be the best bet of any of the players drafted on Thursday to reach the majors this season. That the Yankees could use an upgrade over Matt Thornton only makes that possibility more likely.
Chances of Signing: 90
Likely the only thing that could deter Lindgren from signing is the possibility of returning to Mississippi State as a starter in his senior season, with the idea being to build his value even further for next year's draft. But him signing now would be a case of getting while the getting's good, so expect Lindgren and the Yankees to make music.
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