When rumors cropped up a few days ago that the Los Angeles Dodgers were interested in Marlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco, some speculated that Dodgers pitching prospect Ross Stripling could be involved in the trade. That wasn't the case, the Dodgers sending Steven Ames, Angel Sanchez, and Josh Wall off to Miami instead, retaining the services of Stripling, who has emerged as one of the best pitching prospects in the Los Angeles system this year.
Stripling pitched four years at Texas A&M University. After 14 innings of freshman relief work in 2009, he entered the rotation as a sophomore in '10 with fair results (4.50 ERA, 89/29 K/BB in 88 innings, 100 hits). He took a large step forward as a junior in '11, going 14-2, 2.29 ERA, 113/18 K/BB in 126 innings, starting 16 games but also picking up four saves. He was drafted by the Rockies in the ninth round, but did not sign. He returned for his senior year in 2012 and remained effective (10-4, 3.08 ERA, 120/19 K/BB in 126 innings), including a no-hitter against San Diego State.
The Dodgers selected him in the fifth round last June, signing for a below-slot (but still substantial for a senior) $130,000 bonus. He was kept on a short pitch count leash at Ogden in the Pioneer League after signing due to his heavy college workload, but pitched very well (1.24 ERA, 37/6 K/BB in 36 innings over 12 starts). He's maintained that in 2013, posting a 2.94 ERA with a 34/11 K/BB in 34 innings for Rancho Cucamonga in the High-A California League, followed by a 2.29 ERA with a 49/6 K/BB in 51 innings for Double-A Chattanooga.
Overall, in 121 professional innings since signing last June, Stripling has a 2.16 ERA with a 120/23 K/BB with just 97 hits and three homers allowed. His numbers haven't deteriorated at all since moving up to Double-A.
Stripling is a 6-3, 190-pound right-handed hitter and thrower, born November 23, 1989 in Southlake, Texas. He threw 87-91 in college but some minor mechanical adjustments have boosted his fastball slightly, which now works at 89-94. His control of the pitch is excellent and he does a good job of working the lower part of the zone, inducing grounders and avoiding home runs.
He has three secondary pitches: curveball, changeup, slider. The curveball is his go-to pitch and is quite good, but the changeup has impressive moments as well. The slider is a new pitch that he's gradually incorporating. His delivery is clean and consistent, he is a good athlete, and has stayed healthy under both college and pro workloads. Stripling also has impressive makeup, with high levels of general intelligence, baseball smarts, competitive instinct, and mound presence.
Stripling isn't a projectable type: he's close to a finished product and isn't going to start suddenly throwing 99 MPH. Nevertheless, his combination of pitchability and command should make him a solid candidate as a fourth starter. Expect to hear his name in trade rumors if the Dodgers can't find room for him.