Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Atlanta Braves Look to 2018, Sign Jacob Lindgren

By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA
(Jacob Lindgren) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
I occasionally buy a lottery ticket.

I know it's a racket, but if the jackpot is huge, I'll spend a few bucks and take a chance. One of my friends won't. She believes it's wasted money. However, when the jackpot is $150 million, even she starts saying things like "I really need to win the lottery." I tell her, "you gotta pay to win."

That's an odd segue-way into the meat of this article. The Atlanta Braves have signed recently non-tendered left-hander Jacob Lindgren. the contact is for one year - all of which will be spent on the Disabled List after Lindgren underwent Tommy John surgery last August. That put an end to a season that was sidelined by elbow issues. Atlanta will need to keep Lindgren on their 40-man roster until they can begin to use their disabled list again this spring. Plus side to that is had they signed him to a minor league contract, he could have - and probably would have - been selected by another team in the Rule 5. Lindgren will get a year of major league service, however. Lindgren has less than a year of major league service and has two all three option years remaining. (ed. first draft indicated he had used an option. It is believed, with the help of Braves Options Guy on Twitter, that Lindgren has not used any options.)

A second round pick of the New York Yankees in 2014, Lindgren was a brilliant pitcher for the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Moved to the bullpen full-time in 2014, Lindgren struck out 100 (!) batters in 55.1 innings while allowing just five earned runs. He was wild at times with 18 wild pitches, though with his stuff, I guess you could call him effectively wild.

Like many college relievers taken so high, he was given an accelerated time table in the minors. After he was drafted, he pitched for four teams over 19 games with his final stop coming in Trenton of the Double-A Eastern League. While progressing, Lindgren struck out 48 of the 104 batters he faced. He did walk 13 (one intentional) and uncorked nine wild pitches, but the Yankees were naturally excited about what they had. He was moved up to Triple-A to begin 2016 and by late May, he was already in the majors. His numbers were not as dominating as is first act. In triple-A, he struck out "just" 29 in 22 innings with 10 walks. In the majors, his wildness played up and he gave up the first three homeruns of his career. His season came to a close with, you may have guessed it, elbow troubles after just seven games in the majors.

This season, he was disastrous in spring camp, prompting the Yankees to start him in Advanced A-ball. He pitched seven hitless innings, but walked nine, hit a batter, and uncorked six wild pitches. He hit the DL in late April and four months later, Lindgren finally went under the knife.

Lindgren doesn't possess a blow-you-away heater, but the four-seamer has a lot of sinking movement to it. His out pitch is a slider that has plus-plus grade to it. That pitch alone keeps us from grading Lindgren as a LOOGY and helps explain his absurd strikeout numbers - and why he earned the nickname "The Strikeout Factory." Below is a clip from his debut and pay special attention to the slider he throws.



Similar to Jesse Biddle last year and Daniel Winkler the year before, the Braves are looking two years into the future with Lindgren. If he comes all the way back and can stay healthy, the Braves will have their best left-handed reliever since Jonny Venters. If not, they wasted very little. Exciting signing that may pay big dividends in 2018.

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