Rapid rise brings Lindgren close to big league goal

From 2014 Draft to '15 spring camp, Yankees prospect soaking in experience

Rapid rise brings Lindgren close to big league goal

TAMPA, Fla. -- The television could no longer be heard in Jacob Lindgren's home, where there was a wild celebration underway following the announcement that he had been selected by the Yankees in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. But one of the voices on the screen suggested that he could jump to the big leagues quickly.

That commentary proved prescient, as Lindgren saw his fastball-slider combination translate into immediate strikeouts in the Yanks' Minor League system. The big club even considered rushing him up to help its bullpen last September. It didn't happen, but that call to the Bronx seems to be in Lindgren's future.

"I mean, that's everybody's goal, to make it to the big leagues," said Lindgren, who is ranked as the Yankees' No. 9 prospect according to MLB.com. "You've just got to take it one game at a time, do good out there, compete and play hard."

A second-round selection from Mississippi State, Lindgren saw his Draft stock rise when he was converted from a starter into a reliever during his junior season. His fastball jumped from 87-91 mph to 91-95 mph, and a biting slider helped him ring up 48 strikeouts against 13 walks in 25 innings with the Yanks.

Top Prospects: Lindgren, NYY

"It's definitely a different mindset," Lindgren said. "As a reliever, you're pretty much going all at them, attacking them with your best stuff. My stuff plays up a little, so I get more swings and misses. "

Lindgren said that he has been compared to former Yankees left-hander Phil Coke, who helped the club win a World Series title in 2009. Manager Joe Girardi said that he has been interested to watch Lindgren, who is scheduled to make his fourth appearance of the spring on Friday against the Red Sox in Fort Myers, Fla.

"I'm curious to see him," Girardi said. "There's a bunch of young players that strike your curiosity here."

Lindgren's rise last season started with the Gulf Coast Yankees and saw him rocket through Class A Charleston and Class A Advanced Tampa before reaching Double-A Trenton, finishing the year posting a combined 2-1 record with one save and a 2.16 ERA in 19 relief appearances. He held opponents to a .135 batting average.

"I think the [pro] hitters were a little bit more patient, not swinging as much," Lindgren said. "You've still got to fill up the zone, no matter what level you're at. The hitter still steps in the box, so you've still got to make your pitches, regardless."

Having gone from a college campus to the Yankees' Spring Training clubhouse in the span of less than one calendar year, Lindgren participated in a preseason "Captain's Camp" at the Yanks' complex, and he said that he has enjoyed the transition to life as a pro.

"It's an awesome experience," Lindgren said. "I've met some good guys so far, and all the guys are pretty welcoming. It's an exciting time."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.