Yankees' top pick ready to start career
The Yankees took Lindgren in the second round with the 55th overall pick Thursday night.
New York hasn't told Lindgren whether they project the 5-foot-11, 203-pound pitcher from Bay St. Louis, Mississippi as a starter or reliever.
"It's hard to make the big league club," Lindgren said. "I'm sure the Yankees will do a good job monitoring" progress at each level to see where he fits best.
Lindgren was a talented high-school pitcher taken in the 12th round of the 2011 Major League Baseball draft by the Chicago Cubs, yet chose college ball over the pros.
He worked mostly in relief his freshman year before earning a spot in the Bulldogs' rotation to start his sophomore season. Lindgren, though, was inconsistent and Mississippi State coaches moved him back to the bullpen where he said something finally clicked.
Lindgren became more aggressive in late-inning situations, he said, and that helped the speed on his fastball improve from the upper 80s-lower 90s to mid-90s this season.
He refined that at the Cape Cod League last summer and brought that new mindset to the Bulldogs bullpen.
"My stuff was just playing out better," he said. "And I feel like it's worked out."
That showed in his performance as Lindgren was one of the best relievers in the Southeastern Conference. He led the country with more than 16 strikeouts over nine innings this season. His 100 strikeouts this year was tops among all relievers in Division I and his draft status perked up.
"I knew my junior year was going to be a huge year for me because I had a lot to prove," he said. "That's why I worked hard."
Lindgren had heard from many clubs including the Yankees prior to the draft, but didn't have a strong feeling about where he'd end up. He grew up a Minnesota Twins fan, but "everybody dreams of playing for the New York Yankees and wearing the pinstripes," he said.
Mississippi State's season ended last weekend, losing in NCAA regional play to top-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette. Lindgren came on early in the final game Monday and worked 4 1/3 innings of three-hit ball, but it wasn't enough in the Rajun' Cajuns' 5-3 victory.
The Yankees took pitchers with their first five selections, including Lindgren's Mississippi State teammate Jonathan Holder in the sixth round Friday. They also selected Connecticut high-schooler Austin DeCarr in the third round, South Carolina lefty starter Jordan Montgomery in the fourth and Central Michigan right-hander Jordan Foley in the fifth.
Lindgren's selection carries a slot bonus value of $1,018,700. He doesn't expect holdups in reaching a deal and hopes to get that wrapped up as quickly as possible and begin helping the Yankees win games. He said baseball is about winning championships and "hopefully, we can bring one back to New York."