Larry Mahnken and SG's

Replacement Level Yankees Weblog

"Hey, it's free!"

The Replacement Level Yankees Weblog has moved!  Our new home is:

Larry Mahnken
Sean McNally
Fabian McNally
John Brattain

This is an awesome FREE site, where you can win money and gift certificates with no skill involved! If you're bored, I HIGHLY recommend checking it out!


Disclaimer: If you think this is the official website of the New York Yankees, you're an idiot. Go away.

January 17, 2007

by Fabian

Tyler Clippard, 22, RHP
Previous Ranking: 3rd prior to 2006, 5th prior to 2005, 7th prior to 2004
What Others Say: Pinstripes Plus 5th, Baseball America 7th, John Sickels 5th (B)

Physical Ability: Though he has now increased his weight to about 200 pounds, by most accounts, the 6’4’’ Clippard still has a somewhat slight build. Some look at that as evidence that he may have even more filling out to do, which will lead to a further increase in his velocity. This is such a critical point because Clippard’s velocity is universally cited as the red flag of his prospect profile. As it stands, a typical Clippard fastball registers 90 on the radar gun. When he’s locked in and reaches back for something extra, he can get that up to 94. When it comes to fastball velocity, there are days when Clippard is 86-90, then there are days where he is 89-92, and finally there are the days when he just repeatedly hits 90. It all has to do with how well he’s finishing his pitches and how in-sync his motion is. In addition, to the 4-seam fastball, Clippard’s other primary pitches are the curveball and change-up. He throws a slider from time to time, but it’s not a huge part of his repertoire. Clippard’s curveball regularly comes in at 75 on the gun and has the 12-to-6 break that everyone loves to watch. In the past, he has struggled with leaving this pitch up, but did a better job of commanding it in the second half of 2006. Clippard’s change-up has never been as good as it was from June onward this past year, garnering consistent 80 MPH strikeouts.

What Happened in ’06: Clippard began the year pitching for the Trenton Thunder, and pitching terribly. In the early going, it was simply a matter of opponents being able to count on a bloop and a blast. However, as the losses piled up, it became more than that. On June 9th, Tyler Clippard hit rock bottom. His control was poor, rainy conditions did not help, and his ERA ballooned to 5.29 following a 1 inning outing. The results accumulated by the Tyler Clippard who pitched prior to and during that game were never as dominant as the results accumulated by the Tyler Clippard who pitched following June 9th. While Clippard has had hot months in the past, he has never pitched so well for so long as he did to close out last year’s regular season. His fastball was the same, his curveball was the same, but his change-up took a giant leap forward. Having the change-up as a reliable weapon made life much easier for Clippard. Instead of relying on his curveball when he needed a big pitch. He could now go to his change-up without worry, which allowed the fastball to become more of a weapon in those situations as well.

What Lies Ahead: Having successfully made the AA transition, Clippard now has to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke and repeat his success at AAA. That’s the reality of being right-handed and not having a “wow” fastball. In a rotation that will be looked at as Phil Hughes, The Injury Replacements, and some other guy, Clippard may be able to force himself to the forefront. The Yankees do not want Phil Hughes to pitch more than around 180 innings in 2007. As such the likely candidate for first call-up will be one of The Injury Replacements. If Clippard is measurably outperforming them and/or they struggle when given their shot, Clippard may be able get a roster spot and a chance in the big leagues. It’s a narrow window of opportunity, but it’s there.

Grade: Based on results, Clippard is probably about a B+ prospect, but given that there are valid concerns about how he gets his result, his grade gets knocked down a bit. It should also be noted that he is not the extreme flyballer many would have you think, but rather, a pitcher with fairly neutral batted ball tendencies. In addition, I think his potential is more than simply back of the rotation. He might pitch “backwards”, but I think if everything works out, Clippard can be a guy you slot in at the 2/3 slot on a club and sit back and watch as he gives you 200 innings of 3.8-4.1 ERA baseball. Again, that’s IF EVERYHING WORKS OUT. At the least, I think he should be able to give decent innings in a swingman role out of the bullpen. B

Jeff Marquez #6