Scouting Report: RHP Matt Lindstrom
Lindstrom posted a 3.12 ERA as a reliever
Lindstrom posted a 3.12 ERA as a reliever

Posted Jan 31, 2006


The New York Mets drafted Matthew Lindstrom in the 10th round of the 2002 draft out of Ricks Junior College in Idaho. Always considered one of the elite power pitchers in the farm system, Lindstrom salvaged a disappointing 2005 season after moving to the bullpen in the second half of the year. Here's a scouting report on Matt Lindstrom.

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Vital Statistics:
Name: Matthew Lindstrom
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: February 11, 1980
Height: 6’5”
Weight: 215
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

It was a tale of two seasons for hard-throwing prospect Matt Lindstrom, who struggled mightily as a starter in 2005 before appearing to find a niche in relief.

Showcasing arguably the best fastball in the system, the 25-year-old Lindstrom began his first season at Double-A as a starting pitcher, having filled that role successfully in 26 starts the year prior at Class-A Capital City and St. Lucie.

But things didn't go quite as swimmingly this time around. Still feeling the after-effects of an earlier stress fracture in his pitching arm that forced him to throw with pain, Lindstrom's command suffered; in 10 starts for Binghamton, the right-hander went 0-4 with an 8.18 ERA.

"I pitched through it and still had my arm strength, but my release point was off," Lindstrom said. "In 2004, I'd focused on making my control better. But when you throw with pain, you just want to release the ball. You don't really care where the ball's going."

A Mormon who took two years off from baseball to serve as a missionary in Sweden, Lindstrom pitched at Ricks (Id.) Junior College before earning selection as a 10th round pick of the Mets in June 2002.

He first noticed the pain during the 2004 Arizona Fall League schedule, coming off a strong season in which he went a combined 8-3 between the two A-ball clubs. Similar to shin splints, the pain followed him through spring training and the regular season.

"There were a lot of ups and downs," Lindstrom said. "It kind of felt like it was a roller-coaster. It was the first adversity I've really faced in my career so far."

With his motion altered and opposing clubs having little difficulty catching up to him – in Lindstrom's last start June 15, New Hampshire rocked him for seven runs before he was lifted in the first inning – a full-time move to the bullpen became a logical move.

There, Lindstrom blossomed, going 2-1 with a 3.12 ERA in 25 appearances for Binghamton. Though he prefers starting and has heard rumors he might have one more shot, the bullpen suits Lindstrom fine.

"I like the mentality of relieving," he said. "You go in there and get three outs, closing the door on a team. It has been an adjustment, because I always considered myself a No. 2 or No. 3 starter in the major leagues. But I like both."

Sent back to the AFL for a second year, Lindstrom's struggles returned as he allowed eight earned runs in five appearances, spanning six innings. Still, Lindstrom returned to his native Idaho with lessons learned, particularly pointing to one encounter with Cleveland Indians prospect Ryan Garko.

Pitching against Garko's Mesa club on Oct. 15, Lindstrom recalls buzzing seven 98 MPH fastballs over the plate, with Garko fouling off each one. On the eighth, he connected, blasting a solo home run to left.

"I learned you can overpower hitters in certain situations, but not every time," Lindstrom said. "You've got to learn to throw stuff that the hitters aren't expecting. You've got to be smarter, and that's what I'm trying to find."

Year

Team

W-L

IP

Hits

BB

K

ERA

2005

Binghamton

2-5

73.1

90

55

58

5.40

2004

St. Lucie

5-5

79.2

83

20

50

3.73

2004

Capital City

3-2

56.0

47

10

64

3.21

2003

Capital City

2-3

56.2

46

33

50

2.86

2003

Brooklyn

7-3

65.1

61

27

52

3.44

2002

Kingsport

0-6

48.1

56

21

39

4.84



Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Slider, Changeup.

Fastball. Matt Lindstrom, who has the best fastball in the Mets' farm system, is one of the hardest throwers in all of minor league baseball. His fastball averages 93-97 MPH and has touched 99 MPH a few times and even 100 MPH a couple of times in St. Lucie in 2004. He throws mostly 4-seam fastballs right now but has been incorporating his 2-seam fastball a little more over the last year. About 70-75% of his pitches are fastballs and it serves as his out pitch when he's a reliever. The stress fracture in his arm messed with his control in 2005 so he gets a slight pass on his performance this past season.

Other Pitches. Lindstrom's second best pitch is his slider which he has done a very good job improving. When he first started out as a professional pitcher, his slider was sitting around 80-1 MPH but has been able to add more velocity to it in three short seasons. His slider now averages about 85-86 MPH and is his best out pitch when he's used as a starter. Lindstrom has a curveball that he throws about 77-79 MPH and it is a pitch he was working on working more into his repertoire as a starter, but as a reliever, it is a pitch that he rarely throws, if ever. He also throws a good changeup that is clocked around 80-81 MPH.

Pitching. Lindstrom's 2005 season was an aberration. The stress fracture in his pitching arm, while it didn't mess with his velocity, effected the location and command of his pitches. Sustaining the injury back in 2004, Lindstrom has literally been pitching in pain ever since. As a result, he gets a mulligan for his performance with the Binghamton Mets this past season. When he's healthy, he is the epitome of a power pitcher that has enough confidence in his ability that he goes right after batters. After walking just about two batters per innings in 2004, which was marked improvements in his control from his earlier days, he walked nearly seven batters per nine innings in 2005 because of the injury. As a reliever, he uses his plus fastball and slider to blow away hitters and mixes in a solid changeup to keep them off-balance.

Projection. Lindstrom has always maintained a preference towards remaining a starter than a reliever. But with his advanced age, playing hurt for more than a year and losing more development time as a result, and combining the fact that he pitched much more effectively out of the bullpen this past season, he projects to be a solid setup man or closer for the Mets. He'll be 26-years old when the 2006 opens up and it seems unlikely that the Mets will have the patience to keep working Lindstrom in as a starter. His great combination of a devastating fastball and nasty slider are enough to be a very successful closer, but with Billy Wagner locked up for the next few years, Lindstrom could be an in-house solution to be a solid setup man.

ETA. 2007. If the Mets don't mess around and just keep Lindstrom in the bullpen, where he pitched in his final 22 games in 2005, he has enough juice in his game to make it all the way to Shea Stadium by some point in 2006 if he's healthy. It seems more likely however that Lindstrom will see some action in the Binghamton bullpen before gaining some AAA experience later in the year in order to be ready for the 2007 season.

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