Mississippi State left-hander Jacob Lindgren drafted No. 55 by the New York Yankees Thursday night in the 2014 MLB draft.
June 6, 2014 5:23:27 AM
STARKVILLE-- Jacob Lindgren was drafted by one of the most prestigious franchises in all of professional baseball Thursday night.
With their only pick of the first day of the 2014 MLB draft, the New York Yankees took a player they believe could be major league ready sooner than later in Mississippi State left-handed reliever Jacob Lindgren.
"Jacob has two Major League pitches that are above average and possess swing-and-miss quality," Damon Oppenheimer, the Yankees' director of amateur scouting said. "He has been extended for multiple innings and holds his stuff consistently."
Lindgren, who was named a finalist for the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association's Stopper of the Year Award earlier in the day, is the highest drafted Bulldog left-handed pitcher since Paul Maholm went eighth overall in the 2003 draft.
"I am humbled and grateful to be drafted by the New York Yankees," Lindgren said. "This is an incredible feeling and a day I will remember for the rest of my life. I would like to thank Mississippi State University, my coaches, teammates and the greatest fans in college baseball for helping me reach this point."
New York's first selection of the Draft came in the second round because of compensation picks lost for signing free agents Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran over this past offseason. With the 55th overall pick, the Yankees took a player ranked No. 41 prospect entering the Draft by MLB.com and No. 50 overall by Baseball America.
His best pitch is a wipeout slider that arrives at 82-88 mph with late bite. His fastball has jumped from 87-91 mph as a starter to 91-95 mph as a reliever after pitching in that role in the prestigious Cape Cod League this summer. It is expected the Yankees would see Lindgren as a reliever option in their system as well.
"You start to evaluate how you go about winning championships at any level and I'm not alone in believing the left-handed breaking ball is just about the most coveted thing in all of baseball," Mississippi State coach John Cohen said. "You can build a championship team in the big leagues one day with a Jacob Lindgren in your bullpen."
In 26 appearances this season for the Bulldogs, Lindgren was 6-1 with three saves and a team-leading 0.81 ERA, ranking first among all relievers nationally with 100 total strikeouts and leading the nation with 16.3 strikeouts per nine innings. Lindgren, who was a 12th round selection by the Chicago Cubs out of St. Stanislaus High School three years ago.
In 55 1/3 innings, the 5-foot-11, 203-pound southpaw allowed five earned runs, 23 hits with 25 walks. Opponents batted just .124 against Lindgren, the lowest mark on the Bulldogs staff.
The only knock on Lindgren was showcased a bit in what was likely his last game with MSU in the Lafayette Regional. Three wild pitches led to three UL-Lafayette runs after he came out of the bullpen in a 5-3 loss Monday night that ended the Bulldogs season. Lindgren will have to prove he can find the strike with more consistency if he's to progress quickly through a team's minor league system.
"Jacob has been very successful in a tough conference and has produced exceptional strikeout numbers," said Oppenheimer. "We are very happy to have selected him."
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.