NY Yankees draft Hancock native Jacob Lindgren
By Joseph W. Gex, II
Jun 6, 2014, 18:47
Former St. Stanislaus stand-out Jake Lindgren on Thursday was drafted by the New York Yankees in the Major League Baseball Draft. Lindgren is show above pitching for the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Former St. Stanislaus College All-State southpaw Jacob Lindgren was taken by the New York Yankees in the Major League Baseball Draft with the 55th overall selection.
The pick by the Yankees was their only selection on Thursday evening which was the first day of the 40-round draft that will continue through the weekend. Leading up to the draft, Lindgren was ranked as the 45th-best prospect by Perfect Game and the 50th-best prospect by Baseball America.
He is coming off his best season in the collegiate ranks where he is widely considered the best reliever in all of college baseball. He has a fastball that has evolved to a consistent 95mph and a slider that is just plain nasty breaking 12-4 at 91-92mph.
Did I mention that he was selected by the New York Yankees? Yes, the same Yankees that are owners of 27 World Series titles. The same Yankees who have alumni such as Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, Reggie Jackson, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera among countless other childhood heroes.
Lindgren commented, “I am extremely humbled and immensely grateful for the New York Yankees selecting me with their first selection in 2014 draft. It is a very prestigious honor. I started on this path of getting to professional baseball long ago growing up in Bay St. Louis and playing at St. Stanislaus. I learned a tremendous amount growing up here in the Bay. St. Stanislaus made me a better man. I grew and developed under Coach Mark Logan and the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. My family and friends have always been supportive of my endeavors and have taught me so much. It is a dream come true and I am ready for this next step.”
With his selection Thursday evening, Lindgren became the highest drafted baseball player in the history of Hancock County for the second time. In 2011, Lindgren was selected in the 12th round by the Chicago Cubs out of high school but opted to go to Mississippi State University to play for the Bulldogs. And, that decision certainly changed Lindgren’s future.
Lindgren continued, “I was drafted by the Chicago Cubs out of high school. At that time, I had a major decision to make and I chose to attend Mississippi State University. I had the opportunity to continue to grow and develop under Coach John Cohen and Coach Butch Thompson. My time spent at MSU and in Starkville has helped me immensely. It taught me that I have to continue to work hard, get better and never settle for the status quo.”
Lindgren has had a breakout junior season that saw him named first-team All-Southeastern Conference by the league’s 14 head coaches. The left-handed relief pitcher led the conference in SEC games only in ERA (0.55), opponent batting average (.114), fewest hits allowed (13), fewest runs allowed (4) and fewest earned runs allowed (2).
Lindgren’s father, Stephen, had a brief stint in the minor leagues with the Baltimore Orioles. He commented, “Jacqueline and I are very humbled by Jacob’s draft selection. He was drafted by the Chicago Cubs out of high school but as a family we felt that going to Mississippi State University and working with Butch Thompson would allow him the opportunity to grow, develop and mature as a player and a person. MSU is a baseball school. They are focused on baseball there and have an extremely knowledgeable fan base. It was important for him to go to a place like that and grow within it. It was an experience that cannot be traded for anything. He is ready for the next step and we are excited and thrilled for him.”
He completed the 2014 season with 16.3 strikeouts per nine innings which led the nation and was also tops for all relievers with 100 strikeouts. Lindgren became just the third Bulldog pitcher since 2000 to record 100 strikeouts in a season joining former first round selections Paul Maholm and Chris Stratton.
In 2014, Lindgren went 6-1 in 26 appearances with a team low ERA of 0.81 and opponent batting average .124. For his career, Lindgren went 12-6 with 189 strikeouts and a 2.64 ERA. He became the 139th Bulldog drafted since the draft began in 1965 and the highest drafted left-hander since Maholm went eighth overall in the 2003 draft.
As a sophomore, Lindgren was part of a staff that led the Bulldogs to a national runner-up finish in the College World Series. Lindgren added, “Being able to play in an intense atmosphere such as the CWS and end up playing for a national title was a tremendous experience. It taught myself and my teammates invaluable lessons that we will carry with us all our lives.”
He continued, “Now, having the opportunity to become a part of one of the most storied professional organizations is a lot to grasp. I could not have reached this point without the support of my family and friends here on the Coast and in Starkville. Everyone that I have come in contact with and learned from since my days in Little League has had a hand in my development to this stage of my life. And, I am extremely grateful for that.”
While at SSC, Lindgren was a two-sport standout playing football and baseball. He played defensive back for the Rocks and lettered three years. He helped lead the Rocks to the 2009 Class 4A state championship. On the diamond, he earned four varsity letters and was a two-time first team All-State selection for the Rocks. He led the squad to the 2010 Class 4A state championship.
SSC head coach Mark Logan added, “We are very thrilled for Jake. He is one who deserves it. All his hard work and determination that he has put forth has been rewarded with this selection. I remember talking with other coaches when he was a sophomore and comparing him to T J House who is now pitching in the big leagues. He has really grown in these least six years. He was an integral part of some very good teams that we had here. His time at Mississippi State University has allowed him to grow, mature and prepare him for this next step. Now, he gets to take that step in perhaps the most storied spot in all of professional sports. What he has done for our program and our area has been immense. It is a testament to what we try to do here. He has the talent and mentality to have a long and fruitful career. We are very thankful to him and we are very excited for what lays ahead for him. “
Prior to the season several teams, including the Yankees, talked with Jake and his family about his future plans in baseball. For the two seasons prior to his junior year, Lindgren was a starter. But, this year the Bulldogs moved him to the bullpen where he came out in relief. And, he had an unbelievable year.
Not only did he lead the nation in strikeouts per nine innings, he was named a finalist for the C Spire Ferriss Award which is given to the top collegiate player in Mississippi. Recently, he was named as one of five finalists for the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association’s Stopper of the Year Award. The winner will be announced on Saturday, June 14th at a news conference at TD Ameritrade Park at 10am. The NCBWA’s All America Committee selects the winner.
Additionally, Lindgren has been named a semi-finalist for the 2014 Gregg Olson Award for college baseball’s breakout player of the year.
While Lindgren was a starter at MSU for two seasons, he was at his best coming in as a reliever. So, where does he project to be in the lineup in the pros? Lindgren stated, “When we last spoke to teams, it was before the season started. I had a great year coming out of the bullpen as a reliever. I will just have to see what the scouts have in store for me. All this can be overwhelming, but playing SEC baseball and getting to Omaha all helped me build up to this. It will not be easy by any means at the next level. I will have to get up and work tirelessly to prove myself each day. Maybe one day, I will walk into Yankee Stadium and stand on the mound.”
Lindgren has proven to all those who have witnessed him that he has grown with each pitch and developed with each inning. And, if one day he takes his spot at the loneliest place in all of professional sports – the pitcher’s mound at Yankee Stadium – he won’t be alone. Lindgren will have his best stuff and the love and support of an entire community behind that powerful left arm.