The LA Angels Minor League system has been improving drastically over the last few years. A handful of the Angels top MiLB talent has made their way to the Majors in 2019, and have performed admirably.
There is still plenty of talent at the top end of the LA Angels organization, but we’re starting to see the lower levels of the system produce intriguing prospects. One such prospect is Luke Lind, the 6’6″ RHP signed as an undrafted free agent in 2017.
The last few years of Angels drafting has brought high quality talent into the organization that is going to anchor the team for years to come. From top talents like Griffin Canning, Brandon Marsh and Jo Adell to overlooked quality athletes such as Jared Walsh and Jose Rojas; the Angels have made the most of their drafting in the last few years and we’re starting to see the benefits already. Griffin Canning has shown serious stuff in the Majors and Jo Adell is just a month from being called up to the bigs, and this is just the first wave of young talent coming in.
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There is another overlooked and underrated talent within the Angels system that is moving up in the organization and is looking to be yet another steal that will contribute to the big league squad. His name is Luke Lind, and he’s a 24 year right-handed pitcher from Eden Prarie, Minnesota, and stands at a towering 6’6″. Lind was signed by the Angels as an undrafted free agent from North Dakota State University where he threw 82.2 innings of 4.79 ERA baseball with a 10 K/9 rate in his 2017 season. Lind is currently in the middle of his 2nd season within the Angels organization and is lighting hitters up with a 10.8 K/9 ratio across 49 MiLB IP. He’s maintained a 2.36 ERA across Low and High A while throwing to a 1.23 ERA with High A.
We caught up with Lind before a game just a few days after his call-up to the High A Inland Empire 66ers and talked about all things from his recover from injury to the evolution he’s made in his game that have allowed him the success he’s currently having in his sophomore season within the Angels system.
Luke Lind #31
H.H: What are the immediate differences you’ve noticed between Low A and High A since your promotion?
Lind: I’ve thrown in three games now [in High A] and the hitters are better, better approaches. Older guys too. Every level I’m going to be at hitters will be getting better.
H.H: What is one of the first pieces of advice you got from your pitching coaches when coming into High A?
Lind: Get ahead early in the count, get strike one. Attacking the zone is the biggest thing.
H.H: What part of your game you’ve been working to improve in 2019?
Lind: “Early in the year I knew I needed to get my off-speed more consistent. My change-up and slider, that was on of my biggest goals in the offseason last year. It’ll be the same thing this off-season too.”
H.H: Hitters are slugging under .400 against you this season, what are you doing on the mound to take such power out of opposing hitters bats?
Lind: “Just attacking them. I go at them and try to be on the offense as much as I can, keep myself ahead in the count and use it to my advantage and make hitters uncomfortable
2019 ERA: 2.39 (49 IP)
After coming into the Angels system Lind hit a bit of a learning curve and threw 38 innings of 6.63 ERA baseball across Rookie level Orem and the Arizona League. He had a little bit of trouble keeping the ball in the park as he allowed 7 HRs in those innings pitched. Those numbers don’t come close to telling the whole story however, across those innings Lind was still striking hitters out to the tune of a 14.7 K/9. The six-foot six right hander showed serious promise in his ability to impose his presence on hitters with the strikeout which is what attracted Billy Eppler to signing the young talent in the first place.
We all know how much Eppler love his big guys who can strike hitters out at a high rate and in that regard it seems as if Lind is perfect for this system. The biggest question when he first came into the organization was whether or not the rest of his tools would catch up to his strikeout ability, but with his 2019 season going the way it is there’s no question that his tools are shaping up to be more than just average. Luke Lind is lighting hitters up this season.
Across 49 IP through Low A (39.2 IP) and High A (9.1 IP) Lind has struck out 59 batters while walking 19 en route to an ERA of 2.39 on the season. In total hitters are slashing just .228/.304/.317 with just two HRs allowed on the season. This is all a credit to the evolution of his change-up and slider; Lind has always had a heavy fastball that leaned more on spin rate than it did on velocity, and with a powerful repertoire of off-sped pitches to back up his spin-heavy fastball we’re seeing Lind evolve into the pitcher that was imagined when signed as an undrafted free agent back in 2017.
59 Ks in 49 IP
H.H: Can you tell us about the injury that kept you out for all of 2018?
Lind: It started off in January; I went down for a weighted ball program and ended up with a stress fracture on the backside of my elbow. Came back in extended Spring Training, threw two outings and halfway through my second outing the oblique went I missed the rest of the year with an oblique injury.”
H.H: What was the recovery process on that injury like?
Lind: It was a tough one, it’s a big muscle and with our sport all we do is rotate. I couldn’t do much for a couple months, I was on the shelf all year. It was harder on me mentally than physically.
H.H: Did you feel uneasy coming into the 2019 season after such a difficult injury?
Lind: Not really, they sent me home healthy at the end of last year so I knew I was good to go. I just hadn’t thrown off the mound a lot last year, I hadn’t seen hitters in a while. That was the biggest thing in Spring Training was seeing hitters again and attacking the zone
H.H: What are the improvements you’ve made between your 2017 and 2019 seasons?
Lind: I feel healthy, in 2017 I came from college and threw over 90 innings that year in college. I was tired, just like everybody else. It’s a long year, everybody’s gotta work hard and stay healthy to get through it. I just try to work hard everyday and I learn something everyday to get better.”
Opposing hitters slash line: .228/.304/.317
His time in High A has been absolutely dominant; he’s allowed just one run in his time with High A so far and has collected a save along the way. His best outing came August 3rd when he pitched 3 innings and struck out 5 hitters to collect his first save with the High A 66ers.Lind was brought into the organization because of his strike-out potential, but now that he’s had time to develop past his exhausting 2017 season we’re starting to see all of his game noticeably elevate. He’s commanding the contact outs and limiting opponents power all while proving himself to be a reliable arm to have in the back of the bullpen.
It hadn’t been the easiest road for Lind, as he missed all of 2018 with an oblique injury sustained in extended Spring Training. Despite missing all of 2018 Lind came back stronger than he was before the injury. After throwing a total 120.2 innings across college and the MiLB (at the age of 22) Lind found his endurance tested; prior to his 2017 season he had thrown no more than 59.2 innings in a single season, the intensified workload he faced in 2017 put serious strain on his body and that strain came out in in the form of injury and struggle to adjust to the learning curves of the MiLB.
Lind has overcome quite a bit to be where he is today with the Angels. Even though he was missed in the 2017 draft he still found his way aboard an organization as an undrafted free agent. He didn’t produce the best stats in college (4.79 ERA in 2017), but his physical tools and over all potential shined brightly enough to be noticed by the Angels brass. His first season may have shown some struggle adjusting to the learning curve, but it seems that Lind is truly finding himself through his fantastic 2019 season.
The Angels are in need of high-impact arms that will produce at the MLB level, and though we may not see Lind until late next season there still remains the promise of having a constant stream of high quality talent feeding into the big league LA Angels for years to come.