May 27, 2014 8:34:14 PM
STARKVILLE-- Asked to pick the one relief pitcher he would prefer being taken out of the game for, Ross Mitchell knew immediately his answer.
"I really don't think there's a better relief pitcher in all of college baseball than Jacob Lindgren," Mitchell said Monday. "You would have to show me multiple outings from somebody else before I'm convinced otherwise."
The very next day the Southeastern Conference coaches agreed with Mitchell's assessment. The junior left-hander was named as MSU's only representative on the first-team All-Southeastern Conference team and the only relief pitcher in the group.
"You get to a point where you feel like the game can be won or lost in a moment and Lindgren is our best guy," Cohen said on May 13. "He is our best swing-and-miss guy, and there's just nobody putting a good swing on his breaking ball."
Perfect Game named Lindgren the 45th-best prospect in the 2014 Major League Baseball draft. In addition, Lindgren was named a finalist for the C Spire Ferriss Trophy, which is given to the top collegiate player in the state of Mississippi.MLB.com's draft analyst Jonathan Mayor named Lindgren the 41st-best prospect in the draft, saying it's "unlikely that he'll last past the second round of the draft."
Normally a closer is given the nod by the SEC coaches for that one reliever spot on the all-conference team but Lindgren (6-1) has held opponents scoreless over his last 21 1/3 innings. Lindgren, who was moved to the bullpen role this season by MSU pitching coach Butch Thompson, now has a razor thin ERA of 0.88.
"I think if you'd have told me that's what my ERA was going to be in the middle of May, I wouldn't have believed you," Lindgren said. "Why would've believed that?"
His presence in the bullpen and knowledge that he's waiting to come into a game late to ensure a victory has given MSU (37-22) a different cruise control mentality to allow their everyday players to relax during leads.
"He almost makes it boring to be out there on the field watching him mow down hitters with strikeouts," MSU senior second baseman Brett Pirtle said. "It's so rare to see a guy make you bored especially in the infield but we know he'll get strikeouts with that filthy wilder."
Lindgren leads all relief pitchers nationally in strikeouts thanks to a overpowering fastball-slider combination and he leads all pitchers overall with a 16.8 strikeouts per nine innings.
Kentucky's A.J. Reed was selected 2014 SEC baseball player of the year while LSU ace Aaron Nola the league's pitcher of the Year. Florida pitcher Logan Shore was named SEC freshman of the year by a vote of the league's 14 head baseball coaches. The coaches also tabbed Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan SEC coach of the year after the Gators took home the league's regular season title by two games.
Pirtle was one of two MSU players to be made to the All-SEC second team selection along with Mitchell. Pirtle was also named to the league's All-Defensive team as well. Gavin Collins was named to the league's All-Freshman team as the only catcher on the list. MSU shortstop Seth Heck was named SEC baseball scholar-athlete of the year.
Three Ole Miss players (first baseman Sikes Orvis, third baseman Austin Anderson and outfielder Auston Bousfield) was named to the league's first team All-SEC squad. Bousfield took home last week the Ferriss Trophy, given to the best player in the state of Mississippi.
Rebels catcher Will Allen earned All-SEC second team honors and Errol Robinson, who finished the regular season with a .315 average in 56 starts with an All-Freshman team selection at shortstop. Alabama failed to have a first team All-SEC selection but had designated hitter Wade Wass earn second team honors and Tide closer Thomas Burrows earned All-Freshman team honors.
Follow Matt Stevens on Twitter @matthewcstevens.
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