TRENTON, NJ – The question has been asked. Is Yankees relief prospect Jacob Lindgren on the fast track to The Bronx and Yankee Stadium?
The answer is, in something quite unusual for the Yankees organization, a resounding yes.
We got our first live look at the 5-foot-11, 180-pound native of Kiln, Miss., Wednesday afternoon. Let Trenton Thunder manager Tony Franklin describe Lindgren’s one-inning, 20-pitch stint, in which he struck out the side.
“Put it this way,” said Franklin. “That young man has special stuff. What he has will play in the major leagues and there is no doubt he’ll be there soon.”
Those who know Franklin also know when he mentions the word “special” about one of his Double-A prospects, he believes that player is indeed that, “special.”
Lindgren, the Yankees’ first pick (second round) in the 2014 Major League Baseball First-Year Draft last June, is a player who will fit neatly in the Yankees’ bullpen sooner rather than later. Naturally, one would like to see more of Lindgren in the next few weeks, but he may be moving quickly.
His fastball, slider combination had Altoona hitters like top Pirates prospects Alen Hanson and Josh Bell swinging at air. Drew Maggi managed a single to right off Lindgren, who also fanned Gift Njoepe.’ The lefty’s fastball sits at 94-95, the slider, mimics a cutter with the way it drops, baffles.
“Just the depth of that pitch,” said Franklin. “The hitters were just not ready for it, and that’s a good lineup.”
Franklin plans to have Lindgren, who, with Wednesday’s appearance, has only thrown 14.1 innings since signing out of Mississippi State, where he earned several honors, including two spots on the All-SEC Academic Honor Roll, in one-inning stints. He has struck out 33, walked just four and allowed only seven hits in 12 appearances at four different levels.
“We’ll see how long he stays here,” said Franklin. “He may be like David Robertson was (in 2008) and be here and gone quickly.”
Lindgren, who turned 21 March 12, is looking at all of this as a learning experience.
“Really I was surprised I got to Double-A this quickly,” he said. “There is just work to be done. All I am trying to do is get better everyday. It’s a big step. I just want to make the most of it.”
Lindgren, who was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 12th round in 2011, but decided not to sign, was moved to the bullpen this past year at Mississippi State. It was decided his two-pitch arsenal – he has a change he rarely throws – would be lethal in the bullpen.
And suddenly every baseball scouting organization had their eyes on him.
“What I try to do is attack hitters,” said Lindgren, who operates from the stretch. “I try to get ahead of them and get them out quickly. I aim to keep them off-balance, on the defensive.”
Pitching in the SEC, vs. programs such as LSU – Lindgren pitched against Trenton teammate and Bayou Bengals hurler Nick Goody when he was a freshman.
“There were a lot of pressure situations in the SEC,” he said. “I learned how to deal with them. I am using what I learned there in my professional career. Having pitched in the SEC, before big crowds, helped.
“I just want to keep working and improving every day. I know what is expected of me.”
Lindgren may not be to 161st and River at this moment, but he’s at least on the D going non-stop between West 59th and 125th.
Or, as Franklin expresses it.
“There are a few young and talented pitchers, Jacob is one, who are getting close,” said Franklin. “It’s exciting.”
Yes it is.