The Braves had high hopes for Jacob Lindgren after poaching the strikeout-producing left-hander from the Yankees in December 2016, but his future appears uncertain now after requiring a second elbow surgery in a 19-month span.
The 25-year-old Mississippi native developed elbow soreness early in spring training and had Tommy John surgery Tuesday performed by Dr. James Andrews at his clinic outside Pensacola, Fla.
Lindgren became known as the The Strikeout Factory while averaging 14.1 strikeouts per nine innings in the minor leagues with the Yankees.
He had Tommy John surgery in August 2016 and the Braves lured him away from the Yankees with a major-league contract offer just before the 2016 Winter Meetings, right after the Yankees made him a non-tendered free agent with the intention of re-signing Lindgren to a minor league deal.
The move by former Braves general manager John Coppolella incensed Yankees officials, including general manager Brian Cashman. The Braves agreed to pay him about $1 million in 2017, including a small signing bonus.
Lindgren, a Biloxi native and former Mississippi State University standout, wrote on his Twitter page immediately after changing organizations: “I have signed with the Braves. Most kids in the ’Sip grew up doing the chop. I am blessed to live a dream.”
But that dream took another unwanted detour this spring, and he had his second Tommy John surgery without ever pitching in a game since the first surgery, and now he’s expected to miss a second consecutive entire season recovering. The Braves could control him contractually for up to four more seasons after 2018 before he’s eligible for free agency.
Before his elbow woes, Lindgren featured a mid-90s fastball and a wipeout slider that was his best pitch. He had a 1.84 ERA and 85 strikeouts, 32 walks and no home runs allowed in 54 innings over 40 minor league appearances.
Lindgren had a 5.14 ERA in seven major league appearances in 2015 with eight strikeouts, four walks and three homers in seven innings, before season-ending surgery to remove a bone spur from his pitching elbow.
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