Yankees' Jacob Lindgren on fast track to majorsAfter quick promotion to Thunder, Lindgren has special debut in Trenton
The Yankees' top pick in the 2014 draft, Lindgren has rocketed through the system quickly, with the Thunder his fourth stop of the season. So far, he's been perhaps the best pitcher in the minors at any level, and it should come as no surprise that on a day he got to meet the greatest reliever of all-time period, the southpaw admitted that it wasn't the first time he became familiar with Mariano Rivera.
"I'm a lefty, so I can't be just like him, but I throw a little bit of a cutter too, and hopefully I can be a great pitcher like him someday," Lindgren said. "He's one of the best of all-time, so he was always someone to look up to."
Rivera was in Trenton for the MVP Foundation's annual event, and prior to the Thunder's game against Altoona, he shared some words of wisdom and signed a few autographs with the guys; Lindgren wouldn't reveal just what advice "The Sandman" had,
So far, Lindgren doesn't have to try to be Rivera or anyone else for that matter, because being Jacob Lindgren is just fine. Over the four levels, the lefty has faced 59 batters and recorded 43 outs, with a whopping 33 of them by strikeout.
That dominance has led him from a quick "welcome to the pros" in the Gulf Coast League all the way up to Trenton, and even though it's been a crazy nine weeks, it's a time he wouldn't trade for anything.
"It's been a whirlwind, but I'm just excited about the whole experience," he said. "It's pretty cool that they have the confidence in me to have sent me this far already, but I'm just trying to make the most of it and keep making my pitches when I have to."
Fast track or not, the Lindgren express hit the Eastern League by storm when he struck out the side in his Double-A debut Wednesday, but the southpaw was almost sheepish when asked about it.
"I mean, I was just trying to execute my pitches," he said shyly. "The hitters have to hit the ball no matter what level you're at, so you just have to let them try to hit it."
Some have seen Lindgren as a major-league possibility sometime in September, and with Matt Thornton now gone to Washington, the role of dominant lefty in the Yankees bullpen is wide open. He's not the only one on the radar though, and he knows that all he can control is what he's doing.
"It's pretty crazy to think that the majors are right around the corner, but I just have to keep executing and take it one day at a time," he said, "so I'm just pitching and going where they tell me."
And even if everyone else in the world thinks he's as close to perfect as he can be, the allure of the bright lights of the Bronx is what's keeping the lefty's eyes on the prize.
"I have to keep getting better no matter what level I'm at, and hopefully one day I can be pitching at Yankee Stadium."