Yankees pick bullpen pair by drafting Lindgren, Holder


Matthew Stevens



STARKVILLE -- The New York Yankees organization has decided to just transport the best of the Mississippi State bullpen to the big city.  


A day after selecting left-hander Jacob Lindgren with the No. 55 overall pick, the Yankees selected MSU's school recorder for saves when they took Jonathan Holder in the sixth round Friday. Holder, the 182nd overall selection in the 2014 MLB draft, became the sixth player in school history to be selected by the Yankees organization.  


The assigned signing bonus value for where Holder was selected is $233,700 and if he signs, that bonus will count toward the Yankees financial draft pool because they selected Holder within the top 10 rounds.  


Holder came to MSU as a dual-threat player from Gulfport but before nearly being cut from the program after a disappointing opening fall, his focus on pitching allowed him to progress fast as a underclassman.  


Holder is coming off a junior campaign where he went 7-1 with a 2.22 ERA and a team-best seven saves. The All-American closer is currently the active NCAA leader with a school-record 37 career saves and ranks second among active players with 12.67 career strikeouts per nine innings. 


In his three years closing for the MSU program Holder finished with a 11-2 record with 191 strikeouts in 81 career relief appearances and a 1.59 ERA in 135.2 innings pitched. Holder had a 0.99 ERA in 36 career games inside the Southeastern Conference. Jim Hendry, the special assistant to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was at the SEC tournament in Hoover, Alabama scouting players including both Lindgren and Holder.  


MSU coaches continually said scouting reports were mixed on Holder and there was a debate between the record-setting statistics he put up in his three years of college against the body type concerns and lack of a overwhelming fastball.  


"The average fastball velocity in the major leagues last season was 91 miles per hour and not enough people understand that," Thompson said Wednesday. "Jonathan Holder has two pitches that are ready for professional baseball and could have a great career if he chooses that path." 


Thompson has now coached and developed 23 MLB draft picks who went undrafted out of high school. 


If Holder had fallen in the draft, MSU coaches were open to the possibility of him being a starter for the 2015 season. Holder could still return to the school but that appears not likely. 


"He didn't really have the normal role of a closer for us this year," Thompson said. "He would come in for us and last 3, 4 or 5 innings for us during an appearance." 


Brandon Woodruff was drafted in the 11th round Saturday by the Milwaukee Brewers. The 2012 National League Central Division champions are hoping to sign Woodruff on the potential of his arsenal of pitches. Woodruff was a top prospect out of Wheeler High School and turned down around $500,000 to come to MSU after being selected by the Texas Rangers with the 23rd pick in the fifth round of the 2011 MLB Draft. In his first three seasons, Woodruff went 3-6 with a 4.70 ERA, starting 18 games in 34 appearances with 81 strikeouts in 90 innings pitched. Woodruff struggled with the starting rotation role in his junior season by going 1-3 with a 6.75 ERA in 15 appearances that included six starts.  


"I would like to thank the Bulldog family for all the support and encouragement over the past few years," Woodruff said. "I am excited to see what the future holds, knowing that Starkville will always be my home." 


The only position player selected from the MSU roster over the 40 rounds of the draft was Brett Pirtle. The senior second baseman, who Cohen referred to in their season-ending loss to Louisiana-Lafayette Monday as the best player to play the position at MSU, in the 23rd round by the Detroit Tigers.  


Pirtle was voted second-team All-SEC by the league's 14 head coaches for the second-consecutive season after hitting a team-high .363 in 63 starts with 35 runs, 31 RBIs and 10 doubles. Defensively, the coaches named him to the SEC All-Defensive Team after breaking the school records for fielding percentage (.981), assists (211) and chances (321) at his position. 


"The first thing you evaluate about Brett Pirtle is he switch hits and nobody at second base has done that at MSU as well as he has," Cohen said. "Secondly, you put together how great a player he was for us offensively and then defensively and yeah, I think he's the best ever to play there at MSU." 


In his career, Pirtle reached base safely in 68 of his 70 career games against SEC opponents, including a conference record 63-straight games from March 23, 2013-May 22, 2014. Pirtle was named to the 2014 NCAA Lafayette Regional. Last season, the All-SEC performer was a member of the 2013 College World Series All-Tournament Team and was named to the NCAA Starkville Regional All-Tournament Team. 


The second MSU signee was picked in the last round of the draft as shortstop Dale Burdick was selected by the New York Mets with the 1,195th overall pick. Burdick, who is the 224th best national prospect according to Perfect Game, is expected to compete for playing time at MSU at second base if he arrives on the Starkville campus.  


Six Mississippi State high school players were selected including West Lauderdale High School catcher Blake Anderson going 36th overall by the Miami Marlins. Columbia High School shortstop Tiquan Forbes went 59th overall to Texas. Harrison Central first baseman Bobby Bradley was selected 97th by Cleveland. George County High School left-handed pitcher Justin Steele went in the fifth round (139th overall) to the Chicago Cubs. On the final day of the draft, Desoto Central outfielder Clay Casey was drafted in the 33rd round (994th overall) by the Washington Nationals. Gulfport High School third baseman Daniel Keating was taken in the 39th round (1,181st overall) by the Pittsburgh Pirates.  


Ole Miss had nine players selected over the three days of the draft. The Rebels Friday night ace Chris Ellis was taken in the third round by the Los Angels Angels. Ole Miss junior outfielder Auston Bousfield was selected 147th overall by San Diego. Senior third baseman Austen Anderson was drafted in the ninth round by Baltimore. Rebels closer Josh Laxer was taken in the ninth round (280th overall) by Detroit. Outfielder Braxton Lee was taken in the 12th round by Tampa Bay. Catcher Will Allen was selected 400th overall in the 13th round by Detroit. Seattle selected junior pitcher Hawtin Buchanan in the 20th round. Houston drafted Rebels middle reliever Aaron Greenwood and one round later fellow bullpen arm Christian Trent was taken by the Los Angeles Dodgers.  


Four Southern Mississippi players were taken over the 40 rounds of the draft. Atlanta drafted USM pitcher Bradley Roney in the eighth round (253rd overall). Right-handed pitcher Conor Fisk was taken in the 24th round (714th overall) by Toronto. Junior outfielder Mason Robbins was selected 738th overall in the 25th round by the Chicago White Sox. Right-handed pitcher Taylor Nunez was taken in the 27th round by the Boston Red Sox.  


Alabama right-handed pitcher Spencer Turnbull was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the second round. The former Madison Central High School star was taken 63rd overall. Junior catcher Ben Moore was taken by Boston with the 254th overall pick in the eighth round. Left-handed pitcher Justin Kamplain was taken in the 18th round by the New York Yankees.  


East Mississippi Community College Jonathan Nyman, a second baseman, was selected 951st overall in the 32nd round by the Seattle Mariners.  


Former MSU two-way player Taylor Stark was taken by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 30th round with the 896th overall pick. Stark has spent the last two years as a pitcher at Delta State University.  


Follow Matt Stevens on Twitter @matthewcstevens.



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