Marlins order 'The Rookie' reboot with Lindsey pick on Day 2

July 11th, 2023

Remember "The Rookie" starring Dennis Quaid, the 2002 film based on Jim Morris' unconventional path to the Majors? 

A little more than a year ago, Andrew Lindsey had given up on a baseball career and was digging ditches and coaching a travel baseball team in his Tennessee hometown. On Monday, the Marlins selected the 23-year-old right-hander in the fifth round of the 2023 MLB Draft.

"In a lot of my meetings with scouts before the Draft, a lot of them said my story sounds exactly like that as well," Lindsey told over the phone. "If you know the story, if you read any of the articles that have been done on me, you can see the similarities. I think the story is just beginning as far as the similarities with that. Hopefully, we can make it more like that movie than it is already. But I think it's a pretty cool story already."

After spending two years at Walters State Community College, Lindsey transferred to Charlotte, where a combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and personal issues made him step away from the game. Lindsey returned to his hometown of New Johnsonville searching for direction.

Local employment agency Workforce Essentials had a temporary position available via a grant to support nearby Waverly with flood relief following a deadly event on Aug. 21, 2021. Lindsey went to work for the Waverly Street Department, which needed help months after the disaster. It offered Lindsey a sense of clarity.

"I've always loved being outside, and being my job, I think it just helped me to realize that first of all, it's something I want to do is be outside, but also just showing up early, getting your tasks, going out, getting the task done, and then on to the next task," Lindsey said. "When the so-called 'work clock' is done for the day, I would go home and I would go up to the baseball field and start coaching with the 13-year-old travel ball team. So it was always just outside, outside, outside, outside, and then the day always got finished at the ball field with 13-year-olds who are just up there because they want to play the game and love it."

Lindsey began throwing again when he first heard of interest in him coaching. He figured there were better odds the teenagers would listen to him if he still had it. By his fourth bullpen, someone pulled out a pocket radar gun and clocked his fastball at 96 mph.

"They were like, 'Bro you've got to go back,'" said Lindsey, who had been working and coaching for three-plus months. "'You've got to try at least.'"

Lindsey called his old Walters State coach David Shelton, who connected him with the Kingsport Axemen of the Appalachian League. Following Lindsey's first appearance, collegiate coaches asked for his number. He pitched twice more before committing to the University of Tennessee.

"It was like the snap of a finger," Lindsey said. "It was a little bit surprising. I thought with the stepping away from the game, there would be a lot of skepticism. 'Does this guy really want to do this?' But there wasn't really any of that. It was a lot of excitement, and all the coaches I talked to really just wanted to get me on a visit and get to know me."

Though it took some time to shake off the rust, it was clear Lindsey's stuff had potential. He finished the season with a 2.90 ERA in 21 games (nine starts), garnering Baseball America's All-American Third Team honors.

"By the time he rebounded and came back this year, it was almost like scouting him from scratch a little bit," senior director of amateur scouting DJ Svihlik said. "He improved a ton, did a lot of work in the bullpen for them, and then eventually took over the Friday-night role from [Chase] Dollander, who went [ninth overall] yesterday. A very, very competitive kid, very motivated kid.

"To watch him take on this Friday-night role and develop into this starting pitcher that he developed into, it allowed us to have a lot of confidence in him. We saw him late, all the way down the stretch, and we were very, very happy to get a guy like Lindsey here in the fifth round."

Lindsey is a firm believer that things happen for a reason, even more so now that he is on the cusp of beginning a professional baseball career with the pitching-rich Marlins.

"It would've been such a farfetched idea I wouldn't even know what to say to you," Lindsey said. "I'd say that would be really cool and left it at that, because it wasn't really an option or a possibility in my head."