At one point Matt Lipka was regarded as the best shortstop prospect in the Braves system and now he’s not even in the infield. What the heck? Well Tyler Pastornicky and Andrelton Simmons‘ huge lead in development, plus the lack of any standout outfield prospects led to the athletic first round draft pick’s move to the grass.
While Lipka struggled this past year he still managed to be ranked second on Talking Chop’s top 5 outfielder list. While this has a lot to do with the poor outfield depth in the system it is still nice to see that your 19 year old first time center fielder managed it.
Some scouting snippets on Lipka, his future outlook, and my quick opinion on Albert Pujols after the break…
Lipka struggled with the bat when he was moved up to the Sally League for most of the season but started to heat up near the end of the year:
The promotion to the Sally League was aggressive but most everyone thought it was appropriate given how well he hit in the GCL. Offensively he never could sustain a hot streak and failed to drive the ball with authority (it took him over 100 AB to collect his first extra base hit). His best full month came in August when he posted a .642 OPS, though in 22 September at bats he did have a near 1.100 OPS. Defensively he wasn’t much better but I don’t expect many 19 year athletic shortstops to be completely smooth with the glove.
That’s what Talking Chop had to say. Personally, I think it would be better for Lipka to play a few more months in A ball before he is moved up. He is 19 years old and isn’t going to be starting center in 2013 regardless of what happens with Bourn or how well he does in AA. He needs to be moved along slowly to develop offensively and defensively.
Most scout’s actually thought that Lipka was more suited to play center when he was drafted and it looks like they were right. The guys over at Talking Chop were too; they said this about Lipka recently after he was drafter (before the move to center).
He’s a plus-plus runner by any stopwatch, though, and that should become a key part of his offensive and defensive game. In the field, he’s currently a shortstop with above-average range, but his hands aren’t suited well for the position, and he might have to move to center field shortly. He’s a fringe-average defender as it is, and he has an above-average arm. If he moves to center field, he could be an above-average defender, though that’s more speculation than actual scouting.
Good call on their part.
Before we go any further I’d like to point out that Atlanta has definitely made it a habit to draft ‘athletic players’ and move them around. I am definitely not ragging on the scouting as the Braves have one of the best and deepest scouting teams in the MLB and with the pitchers we have coming up along with Freeman, Heyward, and McCann you can’t really complain. But it would be nice if they started going back to more impressive offensive players, as we are really lacking in that department.
Anyways, back to Lipka. He had a solid professional debut in 2010 rookie ball where he hit .302/.357/.401 with 20 stolen bases and both low K rates and BB rates. He doesn’t boast a lot of power and it’s too early to tell if he will.
It will be important next year for him to show that he can hit at more difficult levels of professional baseball, as well as play above average center field defense. Unless a drastic change comes with Lipka offensively, I think he will need to be a great defender for him to be valuable in the lineup.
If/When Lipka gets the call to double A is when we should get a better feel for how Lipka can impact the big league team. He is a talented player and has potential but he has a long way to go.
This is definitely the biggest shock of the off season so far, especially for me as I was 100% positive that he would resign with the Cardinals. Pujols was the last ‘good guy superstar’ in the game. He had only played for the St. Louis Cardinals and he had become the face of the franchise, and arguably the team’s best player of all time. Pujols was settled in the city and loved by everyone within the town. He won two World Series Championships with the Cardinals and it was a sure thing that he wouldn’t mind giving the team and fans a discount. I mean, they quite literally could not afford to give him that much money. So big deal, he would take 20 or 30 million less. Either way he has a ten year deal and is getting 200+ million in the deal.
Nope. Albert Pujols wanted the money. He went to a team much less likely to win going forward for a bit more money. People will say all kinds of things to defend him, ‘It’s a business’ or ‘he is the best player in the game he should get paid like it’ or ‘it’s the Cardinals fault for not giving him a contract at market value‘ but I will not be one of them.
I died a little as a fan of baseball when this happened and I can’t even imagine how the Cardinals fans are feeling right now. I really feel for them. Aside from the Braves, I am going to pull for St. Louis more than any other team and I hope they go to the World Series next year and sweep the Angels (unless the Braves go of course).
So good job Albert. You are the best player in baseball. You are a no doubt Hall of Famer. You have multiple World Series championships. You are one of the richest players in the game. Fantastic.
But I am no longer a fan of you, and I would take Chipper or McCann over you any day, without a doubt.