Lincoln Saltdogs Lindsey Caughel Defining Legacy with His Mind
There are few people in the history of the United States of America who have had a greater influence on the development and direction of this country than Thomas Jefferson. Not only did Jefferson help to write the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, but he is the author of the Bill of Rights, the country’s third president, and his ideas on governance are still quoted by presidents over 200 years after his death.
Jefferson was not just a giant political figure, however. He was a man who had many interests and who used the vast array of knowledge and fields of study that he endeavored to learn about to become one of the most knowledgeable and intelligent persons that the world has ever seen. He became an expert in such things as botany, astronomy, philosophy, architecture, and many other disciplines that made it so that Jefferson could not be pigeonholed into one classification as a person. He truly was a great thinker among men.
While not attaining the stature of the nation’s third president, the Lincoln Saltdogs Lindsey Caughel has been endeavoring to become that kind of thinker. While many will remember him as an incredibly talented baseball player, Lindsey has gone out of his way to open up his mind to a wide array of interests that have helped to expand the legacy of the 25-year-old.
Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances. – Thomas Jefferson
Baseball became the sport that Lindsey Caughel loved to play for as long as he can remember. As a boy, he showed a great deal of athletic talent and so his dad encouraged him to get involved in as many sports and activities as he possibly could.
“I’ve been playing baseball since I was four-years-old. I was always athletic when I was younger. My dad wanted me to play everything until I was like 12-years-old. So I played everything, I played basketball, baseball, I played football, and I played soccer. I was always best at baseball. So from as early as I can remember I always liked baseball most. My mom said I would always pick up a tennis ball when there was nothing to do and I would go outside and throw it up against the wall for hours. I have always been throwing the baseball.”
The right-hander grew up in the state of Florida and attended Lake Highland Prep in Orlando, Florida. He starred for the team, earning four varsity letters in baseball during his high school career. Two times he was the team’s most valuable player and he was named the school’s top pitcher on three different occasions. In 2006, he helped the school to win the regional championship and advance to the state’s final four, and in his senior season he finished with an impressive 8-1 record with 70-strikeouts in 62-innings pitched. He allowed just 6-walks while posting a 0.80 ERA.
When you put up those kind of numbers, clearly you are going to garner a lot of attention, and that is exactly what happened to Lindsey. Stetson University was one of an array of schools that offered him the opportunity to play with them and so he joined the school in 2008.
While he had had great success in high school, Lindsey did not really consider baseball to be a vocation for him upon his graduation. He had success early on for the Hatters being named to the Atlantic Sun Conference All-Freshman Team in his first year at the school. He was third on the team in innings pitched that season as well as strikeouts, and even had 8-strikeouts in one of his starts, an 8-4 victory over Central Michigan.
In his sophomore season, the righty led the team in innings pitched and in strikeouts, and he allowed a paltry 8-walks in his 86-innings pitched. His skill on the mound and mental acuities were making him a success early on, but this was just the beginning. Baseball had been more of a fun distraction for him to this point, but in his junior season it would take on an entirely different meaning for him.
The right-hander found that as long as he kept his emotions in check, that his ability to succeed really knew no limitations.
“That is one of the things that I really like about baseball. You have to be controlled. You have to let what is happened in the past go and move on to the next pitch, the next batter. If you can do that you gain a huge advantage over many of the hitters you will face.”
Delay is preferable to error. – Thomas Jefferson
In his junior season at Stetson, a new pathway opened up for Lindsey. He starred on the mound, posting a 6-2 record, and was named the Atlantic Sun Pitcher of the Week on two different occasions. He made 12 total appearances that season, striking out 52 batters in 62.2 innings pitched while posting a 4.88 ERA. The success changed his entire thought process related to whether he had a real shot in professional baseball.
“During my junior year of college I started receiving attention from professional ball clubs. That kind of shifted my gears towards that. After I got drafted by the Orioles and I didn’t go I knew that I was going to have the opportunity, because I knew I was only going to get better in my senior year.”
Lindsey Caughel was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 35th around of the 2011 MLB amateur draft. He had every opportunity to begin his professional career but wisely decided that staying an additional year in school not only gave him the ability to improve his play on the field, but also ensured that he completed his degree should he not become the success in baseball that he began to envision.
The decision was a wise one. In 2012, the right-hander improved his numbers, going 7-3 with a 3.86 ERA. He led the team with 88.2 innings pitched and struck out 80 batters, which also led the Stetson University baseball team. That off-season, he was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 23rd round of the MLB draft.
Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly. – Thomas Jefferson
All the hard work and dedication that Lindsey Caughel had put in were now coming to fruition. The right-hander was about to become a professional ballplayer, something he could not have even saw as a possibility a few years earlier. In 2012, he spent time with both of the Dodgers rookie league teams, combining to post a 5-4 record and a 3.32 ERA. He showed great command of his pitches that year, allowing just 11 walks in 59.2 innings pitched while striking out 43.
The next season, he would split time between the Dodgers Mid-A Great Lakes squad and their High-A team at Rancho Cucamonga. Again, he put together impressive numbers, combining to post a 3.63 ERA with 138 strikeouts and just 23 walks in 143.2 innings pitched.
The only blemish on a successful season was the fact that he had gone 4-7 at the High-A level. Determined to erase the memory of that season, Lindsey returned to Rancho Cucamonga in 2014. This time he shaved nearly a half run off of his ERA (4.01 to 3.53) and posted an impressive 8-5 record in 15 appearances. The command of his pitches remained solid, as he walked just 20 batters and struck out 81 and 86.2 innings pitched.
While he has success in the 2014 season, it was not all a bed of roses. It was recommended to the right-hander that he alter his pitching motion, which ultimately led to him suffering a shoulder injury which left him sidelined for virtually the entire 2015 season. It is regret that he has that he didn’t look out for his own career enough and take the opportunity to tell people no. It’s a lesson that he passes on to others within the sport every time he gets the opportunity.
“I know this is going to come off wrong, but you have to be more selfish. It’s your career. It’s no one else’s career. It’s not your manager’s career. It’s not your pitching coach’s career. It’s your career. So speak up for yourself. Make decisions that are going to benefit your career first and foremost.”
Lindsey came to spring training in 2016 and was surprised to see that he was pitching better than ever. He was throwing better and having the best spring training of his career. However, the organization decided to release him and for the first time since he was four-years-old he began to contemplate the idea that maybe his life in baseball was over.
In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. – Thomas Jefferson
After being released, Lindsey Caughel had a chance to reflect on whether he was done with sport or not. He had thrown better in spring training than he ever had in his career, and determined that maybe his best pitching was still yet to come.
“The only pitching that I had done since post-surgery was in spring training and that was the best pitching I done in my professional career I thought. I would’ve been really upset with myself if I walked away so I kind of shifted my thinking to, ‘Okay, I can play independent baseball for a season and what’s the best option here.’”
He knew he still had what it took to strive on the mound, and was not going to let an injury determine his fate. Determined to prove that he could still be a success he signed with the Lincoln Saltdogs. A decision that is proven most beneficial to the American Association club.
In his 11-starts this season, Lindsey has posted a 5-3 record and a 2.27 ERA, which is second best in the American Association and first among those who are still in the league. His command has been absolutely impeccable, as he is walked just 15 batters and allowed 69 hins in 83 innings pitched, while striking out 78. His success on the mound earned him a place in the American Association All-Star game, an honor he is greatly relishing.
“I’m excited to go. I’m really honored to be able to go and represent Lincoln. The pitching staff that this team has; we have a lot of players that could go to the All-Star game and blend right in, so I am honored that I was chosen to go and I’m going to make the most of the experience for sure.”
Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you. – Thomas Jefferson
If his success on the mound was the extent of Lindsey Caughel that would be impressive in and of itself. However, there is a whole lot more to the 25-year-old and this is what makes him quite an impressive young man. In fact, he has ensured that his legacy will not be surrounded by baseball, as he has already decided that this will be his last season on the mound.
“I kind of have a mindset right now where this could be my last year in baseball for the rest of my life, so if there is something that I really think that I have left on the table, then I’m going to try to take it off the table, whether that is I change up a routine before a game, then I want to try to go up there to see how it affects my performance. I have a routine but now I’m thinking that I’m going to exhaust all resources and now is the time to go out there and try to throw as hard as I can or strike as many people out as I can. I’m not trying to save it for anything because I’m trying to go out there and get picked up, so if I don’t get picked up then I’m done playing baseball. I’m not trying to go out there trying to save any bullets or anything. It’s full throttle all the time for me right now.”
Lindsey has made sure that he is well prepared for the next chapter in his life. The Stetson University graduate completed degrees in both political science and in American history, and is taking the lessons that he has learned in baseball and is ready to apply them in life. In fact, he has learned that baseball may be the greatest teacher of what life is truly about.
“I love pitching and I love the concept that is baseball, because I don’t think that there is anything in life that teaches you more about life than baseball does. Because baseball, as a sport, is built entirely around the concept of failure. My opinion of life is that most of what you do is based upon how you handle failure. You’re going to fail…a lot. Talk to anyone who has started their own business. They have probably failed a lot more than they have succeeded. The people who are successful are the wise men who fail and keep going. Baseball is that. That’s what I take away from the game.”
When he has gone on job interviews, he has even used his baseball experiences to prove that what he has learned on the field easily translates into the corporate world.
“Baseball is a resume builder. I’ve gone through an interview process before where you sit there and lay out the case step-by-step how sports in general, but especially baseball, prepares you for life. It’s impressive how much it prepares you for life. It’s something they don’t think about that much because they think all you do is play baseball, but there is a lot of things that go into it. Showing up on time every single day. Working with people that you don’t get along, but still working together to accomplish goals. Taking constructive criticism. Nobody knows how to take constructive criticism anymore. Taking constructive criticism and not getting offended by it but using it to better prepare and perform is essential in baseball. You have to check your ego at the door. You can’t come to the clubhouse with an ego. You come to the clubhouse with an ego and people will hate you. Your teammates will hate you.”
Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude. – Thomas Jefferson
Following the American Association All-Star game, there could very easily be just 30 more games to Lindsey Caughel’s baseball career. The man who has taken inspiration from his parents, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, and Jimi Hendrix, will move on in the next chapter of his life.
No one should shed a tear about this however. If anyone believes that the right-hander is destined to fail outside of baseball, they should think again. He has continually proven over time that failure is nothing more than an additional opportunity to learn and grow, and you can be sure that he will take the many lessons that he has learned and be successful in whatever endeavor he chooses. There are many talents and abilities that Lindsey Caughel has. He could be a captain of industry. He could be the owner of his own business. He could become a teacher. He would be a fantastic musician. It would not even be a surprise to see him running for president one day. Sadly, it’s not this day.
By Robert Pannier
Member of the IBWAA