Lindgren eyes spot in Yankees' bullpen

Lindgren eyes spot in Yankees' bullpen

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees figure to have three vacant jobs in their bullpen when pitchers and catchers report to camp on Thursday, and left-hander Jacob Lindgren feels fortunate to have a legitimate chance at securing one of them.

With the Yankees shying away from free agents this offseason, they could look within the organization to plug some remaining holes behind their power trio of Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances. That's good news for up-and-comers like the 22-year-old Lindgren.

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"As of recently, if you show you're doing good, show some numbers, you might have an opportunity," Lindgren said. "I guess in the past it was a little different, but I'm glad that I'm here at a good time, for sure."

Lindgren got a taste of the big leagues in late May and early June, appearing in seven games and compiling a 5.14 ERA before his season ended due to a bone spur in his left elbow. Lindgren had surgery in late June, rehabbed over the winter and is now considered to be 100 percent.

"He's a healthy player for us in Spring Training," said Gary Denbo, the Yankees' vice president of player development. "We're looking forward to seeing him compete for a spot in the 'pen."

Lindgren was a second-round selection of the Yankees out of Mississippi State in 2014, and he was fast-tracked to the Majors before the injury. He is currently rated as the Yankees' No. 7 prospect by MLB Pipeline.

In two Minor League seasons, Lindgren has posted a 1.74 ERA (34 appearances) and an impressive 14.8 strikeouts per nine innings, thanks in large part to a biting slider.

"[In the Majors], I was trying to take it all in, for sure, and learn from some of the veteran guys," Lindgren said. "Now I know some of the things that I have to work on to improve. I've just got to take it day by day and we'll see what happens going into Spring Training."

Top Prospects: Sanchez, NYY

Worth noting

• Gary Sanchez boosted his prospect stock with a monster Arizona Fall League showing, and the roster hopeful impressed Yankees officials upon reporting to camp. The 23-year-old catcher put on a power display Tuesday, belting several batting-practice homers on a back field.

"He is in outstanding physical condition, the best shape we've seen him in his years here," Denbo said. "He had a good winter of working out and getting himself in tremendous shape."

Denbo said that Sanchez's arm strength rates with anyone in the Majors right now and that he has become a more disciplined hitter, which should help Sanchez -- the Yanks' No. 5 prospect according to MLB Pipeline -- as he bids to make the Opening Day roster as Brian McCann's backup.

"If you ask Josh Paul, our catching coordinator, Josh would tell you [Sanchez is] ready to catch in the Major Leagues," Denbo said. "Ready to catch, throw, to manage a pitching staff. He's an exciting young player."

Rob Refsnyder's Opening Day chances seemed to take a tumble after veteran middle infielder Starlin Castro was acquired from the Cubs, but whether Refsnyder opens 2016 in the Majors or at Triple-A, the Yankees plan to continue developing him as a second baseman. They also believe that his defense is better than has been advertised.

"I see an excellent athlete that has a chance to continue to improve his defensive game," Denbo said. "I think he's got a chance to keep continuing to get better and be a factor for us in the middle of the field at second base."

Refsnyder is been rated as the Yankees' No. 4 prospect by MLB Pipeline.

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