I wrote about Jason Kipnis here awhile back, and included him in my Top Fantasy Second Base Prospects for 2011as well. I wrote that I thought he could see some time in the big leagues in 2011, but he should be ready and have a fantasy impact in 2012. After reading this article over at Baseball America, I think his timetable might be moving faster than I thought.
Farm director Ross Atkins also admitted he was surprised by Kipnis' solid defense at his new position.
"He's that confident competitor," Atkins said. "It's like when you describe Cliff Lee, he sounds like a lot of lefthanded pitchers in that he throws 91-92 mph and has a good breaking ball. But when the game's on the line, there's that fierce competitiveness and that elite confidence."
Kipnis' spring training competition includes Luis Valbuena, Jason Donald and Jayson Nix and minor leaguer Cord Phelps.
"We've found there's just a lot less pressure on a young player when they start in the minors rather than have them on the Opening Day roster," Atkins said, admitting "there's a shot" Kipnis could be an exception.
i put the Atkins quote in bold, as the Indians may be ready to give him a long look this year in spring training. John rated Kipnis as his 3rd best Indians prospect for 2011 behind Lonnie Chisenhall and Alex White. Here is what John had to say about him:
3) Jason Kipnis, 2B, Grade B+: Love the bat, and glove should be at least average with a bit more time.
More after the jump:
Kipnis had a solid first full season in 2010, hitting .307-.386-.492 with 16 HRs, 74 RBIs and 9 SBs in 518 ABs split between High A and AA. He struck out 107 times and walked 55 times last year, and his K rate actually improved a bit with the move to AA from 22.7% to 19.4 %, but his BB rate dropped from 10.1% to 8.7%. Fantasy owners like to see the K rate drop, but the BB rate drop is something to watch in 2011. Nonetheless, his OBP of .386 is excellent in his first full season of pro ball.
Based on the comments from the Indians scouting director, it appears Kipnis will have a chance to compete for the second base job in spring training. This bares watching for fantasy owners in all leagues, especially keeper leagues, as Kipnis bat will get him to the big leagues, and based on the list of players he is competing against, he appears to have a good shot at making an impact in 2011.
With all that said, I think the indians will play it conservatively, and give Kipnis a few months in AAA before calling him up in 2011.