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Top prospect countdown: #18 Jordan Kipper

Jordan Kipper-SP

Jordan Kipper has two claims to fame so far in his short career. The first is less impressive but more of a fun fact in that he played with Kevin Cron (C.J. Cron’s younger brother) in high school, where he was a 3-letter winner. The second, is that he threw a no hitter back in May of 2016 which was in just his second full pro season. Kipper was drafted three times and finally signed with the Angels in the 2014 draft. Previously, the Dodgers and Phillies had drafted him in the 39th and 30th rounds during the 2011 and 2012 drafts.

You would have a hard time finding a better pitcher in the Angels organization last year and Kipper even threw a no-no back in May - just missing a perfect game by walking the first batter (who was retired with a double play). Kipper was also a mid and post season All Star in 2016.

Despite a lack of command of a true third pitch, Kipper gets the job done and is pretty solid across the board. He throws from a 3⁄4 arm slot with an easy delivery. His main roadblock to becoming a future big league starter lies in lack of third pitch, which could ultimately land him back in the bullpen (where he started his pro career). Kipper has a solid fastball, his best weapon, and average to above average slider. He also throws a changeup and curve, one of which will have to improve for him to continue to impress as he climbs the ladder.

Kipper is not a dominant strikeout pitcher (5.9 K/9 in his career) and instead relies on his low walk rate and his ability to induce ground balls which is due to his sinking fastball and slider that drops to the bottom of the zone. In 2015, 55% of hits he gave up were on the ground and that number climbed to 58% in 2016. Kipper had a fantastic year in AA, though some would argue he pitched in a hitter-friendly ballpark. I did the calculations myself, and Kipper actually pitched BETTER in hitter-friendly ballparks than he did in pitcher friendly ones. Despite the Angel’s heavy pitching depth at the AAA level, he should make the move to Salt Lake to start 2017 and as a ground ball pitcher should perform well in the Pacific League. It’s unlikely, we will see him pitch in the big leagues in 2017, but he could have a shot during September call-ups. Most likely, we should expect to see Kipper some time in 2018.