Comping Jacob Lindgren using scouting reports and PITCHf/x

Last week, I found comps for Yankees’ pitching prospect Ian Clarkin by using information from a scouting report to query the PITCHf\x database. Today, I’m repeated this exercise for lefty reliever Jacob Lindgren, the Yankees’ second round pick out of Mississippi State. For this analysis, I considered all left-handed pitchers with at least 1,000 pitches (or roughly 60 innings) since 2008.


Fastball:

Lindgren throws pretty hard, sporting a fastball in the low- to mid-90’s. Here’s the skinny on his fastball from Baseball America:

“He worked at 92-94 with runners on base in the third before dialing it back to 90-92 in subsequent innings…He regularly reaches 93-94 mph with his fastball with heavy life and arm-side run.”

Filters:

Velocity: 90-96 MPH

Break angle: Less than -30 degrees. This filter is meant to only capture fastballs with “heavy arm-side run”. For left-handed pitchers, about half of all fastballs fall within this classification.

Comps:

Comparable Pitcher Lindgren-like FB / all Pitches Career ERA
Luis Avilan 69% 2.21
Dan Runzler 65% 3.86
Sean Doolittle 63% 2.93
Tony Cingrani 59% 3.51
Matt Moore 58% 3.53
Wil Ledezma 57% 5.82
Mike Zagurski 54% 7.50
Luis Perez 53% 4.50
Patrick Corbin 53% 3.80
Alan Embree 49% 5.21

Slider:

Lindgren’s slider is supposedly pretty nasty…

“His slider was unhittable, an 82-84 mph wipeout pitch that bumped 86. He back-footed it against righthanded hitters but also got several righties to chase it down and away, unusual for a lefthanded slider with so much tilt.”

Filters:

Velocity: 82-86 MPH

Break length: At least 9 inches. A little less than half of sliders thrown by left-handed pitchers break more than 9 inches, which would be “unusual for a lefthanded slider”.

Comps:

Comparable Pitcher Lindgren-like SL / all Pitches Career ERA
Billy Wagner 21% 1.77
Dan Jennings 21% 2.63
Brett Anderson 18% 3.81
Marc Rzepczynski 14% 3.94
Jonny Venters 13% 2.23
Damaso Marte 12% 4.78
Mike Zagurski 11% 7.50
Rafael Perez 11% 4.04
Michael Kirkman 11% 5.17
Dana Eveland 11% 5.01

Pulling it all together:

To get a final list of comps, I summed each player’s “Lindgren-like” pitches for both pitch types. To remove players who throw only one of Lindgren’s pitches (ie. a fastball-heavy pitcher who doesn’t throw a slider), I also restricted the list to players who throw each pitch at least 5% of the time. I also only considered pitchers who throw primarily in relief.

Comparable Pitcher Clarkin-like / all Pitches Career ERA
Dan Runzler 72% 3.86
Billy Wagner 69% 1.77
Luis Avilan 69% 2.21
Mike Zagurski 65% 7.50
Wil Ledezma 61% 5.82
Luis Perez 59% 4.50
Glen Perkins 51% 3.89
Zach Britton 51% 4.29
Alan Embree 50% 5.21
Jordan Norberto 48% 4.00

Lindgren throws hard and throws with his left hand. That combination makes him easy to dream on, and the thought of adding a Billy Wagner or Luis Avilan type to the bullpen next year certainly seems appealing. But then again, stuff isn’t everything — even for a reliever. There are guys out there — like Dan Runzler and Mike Zagurski — who have good stuff, but can’t stick in the big leagues and walk a few too many batters. Lindgren’s a fairly polished pitcher, but his command is reportedly still a little suspect. Per Baseball America, “Lindgren lacks command, and his control usually is just enough”. The future certainly looks bright for Lindgren and he should be able to help the Yankees sooner rather than later. But, as with any pitcher with good stuff, a lot rides on how well he’ll be able to control and command his pitches.

Scouting Reports courtesy of Baseball America; PITCHf/x data courtesy of Baseball Savant; Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs. This post was originally published on Pinstripe Alley.

About Chris

Chris works in economic development by day, but spends most of his nights thinking about baseball. He writes for Pinstripe Pundits, and is an occasional user of the twitter machine: @_chris_mitchell
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