With the 55th overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft, the Yankees have drafted Jacob Lindgren, a left-handed reliever from Mississippi State. It's a little bit of an odd choice, considering that he wasn't even the highest name left on the draft board. The thinking might have been that they already develop relievers well, so why not draft to your strengths. Still, the Yankees have plenty of relievers in their system and there are plenty of relievers that could have been taken in the later rounds.
Despite the odditity of the pick, the Yankees found someone with some legitimate talent. He was previously drafted back in the 12th round of the 2011 draft by the Chicago Cubs before opting to attend college. According to Baseball America, Lindgren has a solid build at five-foot-eleven, 204 pounds. As a Sophomore in 2013 he was Mississippi State's Friday starter until an inability to throw strikes moved him to the bullpen. That summer he impressed out of the bullpen in the Cape Cod League and has seen great improvement in his stuff. I'll let BA take it from here:
He regularly reaches 93-94 mph with his fastball with heavy life and arm-side run. He’s tabled his curve and changeup in a relief role, sticking to the heater and his hard, plus slider in the low to mid 80s. His stiff delivery likely leads him to a future relief role as well, and his 16.8 strikeouts per nine indicate he can dominate in that job. Lindgren lacks command, and his control usually is just enough.
Looking over to MLB.com, they believe "his best pitch is a wipeout slider that arrives at 82-84 mph with late bite." That sounds pretty familiar; like Mark Montgomery. MLB.com says Lindgren's 65-grade slider is his best pitch with a 60-fastball to go with it. His changeup rates out to a 45 with 50 control. If you're thinking that they might try to convert Lindgren back into a starter, they caution against that:
Because Lindgren has a sinking changeup and throws strikes, a pro team could be tempted to develop him as a starter. But his stuff plays up as a reliever, and he could reach the Majors very quickly in the role. He has closer upside.
Not only has he completely dominated hitters this year with a 0.88 ERA and 16.41 K/9 in 51.0 innings pitched out of the Bulldogs bullpen, but apparently he can also keep the ball down on the ground when he isn't missing bats:
NYY pick "@collegesplits: Lindgren's splits -- second highest groundball ratio of all D1 with 50+ innings pitched: http://t.co/9zivQPPuUQ"— keithlaw (@keithlaw) June 6, 2014
It sounds a lot like the Yankees have taken a left-handed Mark Montgomery/Tyler Webb-type. A college reliever that can push through the system fairly quickly. It's also a relievatively safe pick, as opposed to some of the high-risk, high-reward players they've taken a chance on in the past. If they think he can stick in the rotation, he'll likely be a bit more of a project because he doesn't have an advanced repertoire like we've seen from David Phelps and Adam Warren. I like this kind of pitcher, they're exciting, they rack up Ks, and they get to the big leagues fairly quickly, but it is fairly disappointing to see a reliever picked in the second round.