Jacob Lindgren | LHP
Lindgren is from Bay St. Louis in Mississippi, which is basically halfway between Biloxi and New Orleans. He did not sign with the Cubs out of high school as their 12th round pick in the 2011 draft, instead following through on his commitment to Mississippi State. Lindgren had a 3.84 ERA with an 89/25 K/BB in 84.1 innings split between the rotation and bullpen his first two years on campus — he missed time with an ankle injury last year after being hit by a comebacker — but this spring he has a 0.88 ERA with a 93/21 K/BB in 51 innings while pitching exclusively in relief.
Lindgren is not very big — listed at 5-foot-11 and 205 lbs. — but he offers nasty stuff from the left side. His fastball sits in the 93-95 mph as a reliever, and the pitch runs back in on left-handers. Lindgren’s sharp mid-80s slider is true out pitch and it has eaten up college hitters this spring. That 16.41 K/9 is no accident. A twisting delivery and somewhat stabbing arm action adds deception and makes the fastball/slider combination play up. Lindgren has all but shelved the curveball and changeup he used as a starter now that he’s in the bullpen full-time.
In their latest rankings, MLB.com, Baseball America, and Keith Law (subs. req’d) ranked Lindgren as the 41st, 89th, and 93rd best prospect in the draft class, respectively. He has a chance to do what Paco Rodriguez did for the Dodgers in 2012, going from second round pick to the big league bullpen in a matter of weeks. The Yankees have done a fine job of filling out their bullpen with later round picks in recent years, and while I’m not a fan of taking a pure reliever with a top pick, Lindgren could be someone they grab with their second rounder (55th overall) and fast track to the show. With a bevy of international signings on the horizon, using that pick to get near immediate help for the MLB club is a reasonable strategy.