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April 6, 2005

by Fabian

Well, that sucked (SG)

Statistics may be slightly off.

Tyler Clippard, RHP, 20

Tyler Clippard was a product of the New York Yankees, thus far, solid 2003 draft. Picked in the 9th round from a Florida high school, Clippard did not come with too much hype, but has thus far outperformed fellow HS RHP and ’03 draftee, Jason Stephens, who drew draft-day Mark Prior comparisons from Yankee officials.

From his first start as a member of the ’03 GCL Yankees through his last start this past season for the Battle Creek Yankees, the easiest thing to note about Clippard is his impeccable control. After posting an incredible 11.2 K:BB ratio in R ball Clippard followed up with an impressive 4.5 in Low A. Interestingly enough, though Clippard only walked 32 men in 149 innings, he also hit 15 batters in that period of time. Perhaps that is nothing more than a statistical anomaly, but the number of hit batters seems a bit disproportionate for someone with such excellent control and it may be the sign of a pitcher who is unafraid of challenging batters and coming inside, which is always nice.

In addition to having great control, Clippard also utilized his fastball/curveball combo to register ground out after ground out. A relatively high hit-rate, one of the knocks against the RHP, may be the product of the large amount of groundballs he generates causing trouble for the erratic IF that played behind him. Despite being a groundball pitcher, Clippard displayed a somewhat significant home/road split. In 9 games and 49.2 innings pitched at home, opponents hit .262 with a .401 slugging percentage against the righty. In 17 games and 99.1 innings pitched on the road, opponents hit .251 with a .347 slugging percentage against T-Clip. This may be testament to the difference in the quality of various minor league playing fields, or a sign of BC not being as conducive to pitching this past year because, in addition, Clippard’s K-rate was significantly higher on the road, 9.7 per 9 road innings compared to 6.9 per 9 home innings.

More noteworthy than his home/road split, was the huge difference in Clippard’s performance versus RHB from his performance versus LHB. Lefties facing Clippard had just about no chance, think Enrique Wilson, then imagine he struck out almost uncontrollably. Meanwhile, RHB had a field day as Clippard allowed them to have an OPS in the .800 area. This huge difference in outcomes is likely the result of the type of pitcher Clippard is right now more than anything else. Without a better fastball, RHB can just sit on Clippard’s other pitches and hit them comfortably, whereas LHB have more trouble handling a solid curveball/change up combination. Hopefully, the continued development of Clippard’s fastball, which is now a consistent 88-92 with a max of 94, will force RHB to cease sitting on his out pitch, the curveball. Further development with his changeup would also be useful in offsetting this problem.

Heading into ’05 as the likely ace of the Tampa Yankees rotation Clippard has a good shot of ending the year at AA Trenton, assuming he adjusts to the FSL as quickly as he did to the MWL. If that happens, look for his name to begin to come up a lot around the trade deadline as his results have thus far been great and his arsenal is developing rapidly. While Clippard does not knock look to have ace potential, he does seem to have all the tools to become a good middle of the rotation starter on a serious contender.

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