Prospect of the Day: Jason Kipnis, 2B, Cleveland Indians
Cleveland prospect Jason Kipnis has been selected for the 2011 MLB All-Star Futures Game. Does he have what it takes to make Major League All-Star teams someday?
Jason Kipnis was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the second round in 2009, out of Arizona State. He'd hit .371/.485/.667 in '08 and .384/.500/.709 with 16 homers, 27 steals, and 51 walks in '09. He performed well in the New York-Penn League after signing, hitting .306/.388/.459, then put up similar numbers in '10, .300/.387/.478 in 54 games for High-A Kinston, then .311/.385/.502 in 79 games for Double-A Akron. His performance has shown no deterioration in Triple-A this year, at .301/.384/.517 in 81 games for Columbus, with a 40/61 BB/K and 11 steals in 11 attempts.
In 243 minor league games, Kipnis is a .305/.386/.496 hitter with 110 walks and 186 strikeouts in 1075 plate appearances.
Kipnis is a left-handed hitter, born April 3rd, 1987. He's not a big guy at 5-10 ,180, but he's quite strong and has plenty of bat speed. His feel for the strike zone is impressive, and he has no problem generating power. He seems to handle both fastballs and breaking stuff well, makes adjustments, and can handle left-handed pitching just fine. His running speed is average but he is an aggressive and effective baserunner.
Kipnis was an outfielder in college but has adapted well to second base in pro ball. He won't win Gold Gloves, but his athleticism helps his range and he's gradually reducing his error rate while improving his ability to turn double plays. He can be at least average there.
Kipnis doesn't have much left to prove in Triple-A and is clearly the long-term solution at second base. We could see him in the majors later this year, and certainly in 2012. He should provide a solid combination of batting average, OBP, power, and reasonable defense.