NEW YORK -- The Yankees had one selection to make on the first day of the First-Year Player Draft. The organization believes that it made it count, taking Mississippi State left-handed reliever Jacob Lindgren with the 55th overall pick.
Lindgren, a hard-throwing junior from Bay St. Louis, Miss., was ranked by MLB.com as the No. 41 prospect entering the Draft and has been touted as one of the nastiest relievers in college baseball.
"I knew maybe one team would take a chance on me, and I'm just very happy it was the New York Yankees," Lindgren said. "It's like a dream come true. I'm glad they had confidence in me with their first pick. I'm ready to show them what I can do for their organization."
Lindgren indicated that he intends to sign quickly, and the Yankees may be tempted to move him aggressively through their system once he's under contract. It has been suggested that Lindgren could be one of the first members of this Draft class to have an impact in the big leagues, perhaps as soon as this season.
"I've actually gotten word of that, and I think that's pretty cool that people think that," Lindgren said. "But making it to the big leagues is not easy. It's going to take hard work. I have to keep developing my game and getting better one day at a time. If the Yankees think it's my time to go up, I'm ready for it."
In 26 appearances this season for the Bulldogs, the 21-year-old Lindgren was 6-1 with three saves and a team-leading 0.81 ERA. He ranked first among all relievers nationally with 100 strikeouts, leading the nation with 16.3 strikeouts per nine innings.
In 55 1/3 innings, the 5-foot-11, 203-pound southpaw allowed nine runs (five earned) and 23 hits, walking 25. Lindgren's opponents batted .124, the lowest mark on the Bulldogs' staff.
"Jacob has been very successful in a tough conference and has produced exceptional strikeout numbers," said Damon Oppenheimer, the Yankees' director of amateur scouting. "We are very happy to have selected him."
Asked to name a big league pitcher he'd compare himself to, Lindgren said: "There's a lot of good big league pitchers out there, but I've heard some people compare me to Phil Coke before."
Lindgren is one of five finalists for the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association's Stopper of the Year Award, which honors the top relief pitcher in college baseball.
He is also a semifinalist for the 2014 Gregg Olson Award -- college baseball's breakout player of the year -- and a finalist for the C Spire Ferriss Trophy, given annually to the top collegiate player in Mississippi.
"I like having the ball when the game's on the line," Lindgren said. "I'm just really attacking hitters with my best stuff."
A solid starting pitcher on Mississippi State's 2013 College World Series runner-up club, Lindgren moved to the bullpen after the Bulldogs lost several relievers to pro ball. He responded to the switch well, saying that it makes him "more aggressive and explosive."
"It really changed what kind of pitcher I am," Lindgren said. "I went from throwing in the upper 80s and lower 90s to now throwing in the mid 90s. My slider plays better. I'm just kind of ready to see if my stuff [translates], what's in store for me in the future and if the Yankees still want me to be a reliever."
His best pitch is a wipeout slider that arrives at 82-88 mph with late bite. His fastball has jumped from 87-91 mph as a starter to 91-95 mph as a reliever. He has a sinking changeup as well.
"Jacob has two Major League pitches that are above average and possess swing-and-miss quality," Oppenheimer said. "He has been extended for multiple innings and holds his stuff consistently."
A multi-sport standout and first-team all-state pitcher at St. Stanislaus (Miss.) High School, Lindgren was previously selected by the Cubs in the 12th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
New York's first selection of the Draft came in the second round because of compensation picks lost for signing free agents Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran this past offseason.
"It was one of the biggest honors of my life, and I'm just happy that the Yankees had faith in me with their pick," Lindgren said. "I'm super excited and ready to begin my journey with the New York Yankees."