Scouting Yankee Prospect # 7: Tyler Clippard

The New York Yankees drafted right-handed pitcher Tyler Clippard in the 9th round (274th overall) of the 2003 Amateur Draft. Despite only turning 20 years old in February, Clippard has displayed some of the best control among the Yankees' pitching prospects. It is this reason he ranks #7 among the Top 50 Yankees' prospects.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Tyler Clippard
Position: Pitcher
DOB: February 14, 1985
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 170
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

The minor leagues are all about development, both physically and mentally, as young men prepare themselves for the Major Leagues. In the case with Tyler Clippard, he was a young man that grew up even before being selected in the 9th round of the 2003 draft, dealing with adversity at such a young age.

Clippard attended Palm Beach High School his freshman and sophomore years but transferred to Mitchell High School his junior year to get more playing time. It was in his junior year he made a name for himself on the mound, going 6-2 with a 1.80 ERA and striking out 99 batters in 63 innings and showing good control, walking just eleven. With a breakout season under his belt, Clippard was kicked off the varsity team at Mitchell prior to the start of his senior year after getting charged with a DUI.

The baseball coach at Mitchell High School had a strict "no drinking" policy and would not lend Clippard a second chance. It was then that he realized he would have to get his name out there on his own by participating in as many baseball showcases as possible. Clippard took an obvious negative and spun it into a positive. "It was a bitter pill to swallow but I look back on it now and I realize that it probably was going to happen sooner or later and I am just thankful that I was able to learn such a valuable lesson so early in life without hurting others or myself", Clippard told PinstripesPlus.com. "It helped me mature pretty quickly and you can bet I'll never do that again."

Without being able to play for his high school his senior year, Clippard found limited options at the collegiate level, drawing interest primarily from the University of South Florida. Still a very talented player, it was Clippard's hard work at the showcases that impressed professional scouts and the Yankees took a chance on him in the 9th round of the 2003 draft. Growing up a Cubs fan because of his mother's affinity for the team, Clippard admitted to us the only teams he would have signed with were the Cubs or the Yankees. Why the Yankees? "The Yankees had such a good reputation of treating their players well and they were close to my home in Florida", said Clippard.

The Yankees assigned Clippard to the Gulf Coast League to make his professional debut in 2003. Used as both a starter and a reliever, Clippard instantly displayed his tremendous poise on the mound, walking just 5 batters in 43 2/3 innings in his first year. He also struck out 56 batters, giving him a strikeout-to-walk ratio of nearly six! After an impressive Spring Training in 2004, Clippard broke camp with the low-A Battle Creek Yankees at the tender age of 19-years old. Once again, the player who teammates affectionately refer to as "T-Clip", demonstrated amazing control in the Midwest League. Clippard went 10-10 for Battle Creek, walking just 32 batters in 149 innings, striking out 145 batters along the way to sport an impressive 4.52 strikeout-to-walk ratio, proving that his 2003 season was no fluke.

"I thought my rookie season (2003) went as well as it could have", said Clippard. "I was a little intimidated at first because everybody was so good. Once you are put into that situation, you're a little unsure if you are going to be good enough. I proved to myself I belonged when I had a start where I gave up no runs, striking out ten and walking one guy. It gave me a ton of confidence. I was humbled a few times this past year in Battle Creek. I thought I could have done better towards the end of the year last season, but overall, I was happy about the year that I had."

Some people believe things happen for a reason. For Tyler Clippard, perhaps his DUI charge early in his high school days forced him to grow up quickly. Ironically, a young man out of control earlier in his life has now become the epitome of control on the pitching rubber. One thing is certain, Clippard has looked like he has pitched with a chip on his shoulder, out the prove to the critics, and himself, that he belongs.

Battle Creek Manager, Bill Mosiello, said it best in an interview with PinstripesPlus.com: "For a young kid, one of the younger pitchers in the league, he (Tyler Clippard) was just outstanding. What he is, is a strike thrower and there is nothing better than that. And, he still needs to fill out and he will only get better and better. He has a chance to be a real good pitcher and will probably be near the top of the Tampa Yankees rotation next season."

Year

Team

W-L

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2004

Battle Creek

10-10

149.0

153

32

145

3.44

2003

GCL Yankees

3-3

43.2

33

5

56

2.89


*Stats as of 9/7/03

Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.

Fastball. Clippard throws a 2-seam and a 4-seam fastball, both with very good movement. His fastball averages 88-91 MPH, but he can bring it as high at 94 MPH at times. While he might not be the hardest thrower in the Yankees' farm system, he certainly has some of the best command of his fastball. He is at his absolute best when he is locating is fastball well, which has been pretty much all the time. At 6'3", 170 lbs, and now just turning 20 years old, Clippard has the chance to fill out more and improve his velocity.

Other Pitches. Clippard also has a very good curveball that scouts say is incredibly good for a young pitcher. Averaging 75-78 MPH with his curveball, Clippard used it more in the Gulf Coast League in 2003, but favored his changeup as his out pitch last year in Battle Creek. His changeup, which averages 78-82 MPH, has become his best pitch right now. Clippard lost some of his confidence in his curveball in 2004, but plans on using it more in the future. He plans on adding a slider/cutter down the road, but for now, he and the Yankees are focused on mastering his three-pitch repertoire first.

Pitching. The name of Clippard's game is control. He refuses to give up the free pass and goes right after hitters. He works all quadrants of the plate and forces batters to swing at his pitches. The addition of his changeup has only made his well-located fastball even better. If he can put on a little weight and add some strength, there's a good chance he could add some velocity to an already good fastball. Clippard is a bulldog on the mound and has a quiet confidence about him that will only serve him well as he progresses through the minor leagues.

Projection. Once considered primarily a relief prospect because of his limited repertoire and slight build, Clippard projects to be more of a starting pitching prospect after the addition of his changeup. If he can keep perfecting his changeup, and possibly add a fourth pitch once he's reached the higher levels, Clippard projects to be an excellent middle-of-the-rotation starter at the Major League level. And if he can add a few more ticks to his fastball, and get stronger physically, he could even become a frontline starting pitcher with his excellent command. It is because of his excellent control that he projects to be one of the safest bets among the pitching prospects to not only reach the Major Leagues, but excel there.

ETA. 2008. We originally had set Clippard's ETA for 2008, but with the tremendous year he had in Battle Creek last season, Clippard is certainly expediting his arrival at Yankee Stadium. He seems to be a lock to anchor the Tampa rotation in 2005 and could possibly earn a promotion to AA-Trenton later next year. The part to remember with Clippard is that he is still so young. He seems to be the type of pitcher that would benefit from taking things one level at a time, year by year, which would put him on pace to reach the Majors by 2008 at the tender age of 23 years old.


Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nVital Statistics:
\r\nName: Tyler Clippard
\r\nPosition: Pitcher
\r\nDOB: February 14, 1985
\r\nHeight: 6'3\"
\r\nWeight: 170
\r\nBats: Right
\r\nThrows: Right
\r\n
\r\nThe minor leagues are all about development, both physically and mentally, as young men prepare themselves for the Major Leagues. In the case with Tyler Clippard, he was a young man that grew up even before being selected in the 9th round of the 2003 draft, dealing with adversity at such a young age.
\r\n
\r\nClippard attended Palm Beach High School his freshman and sophomore years but transferred to Mitchell High School his junior year to get more playing time. It was in his junior year he made a name for himself on the mound, going 6-2 with a 1.80 ERA and striking out 99 batters in 63 innings and showing good control, walking just eleven. With a breakout season under his belt, Clippard was kicked off the varsity team at Mitchell prior to the start of his senior year after getting charged with a DUI.
\r\n
\r\nThe baseball coach at Mitchell High School had a strict \"no drinking\" policy and would not lend Clippard a second chance. It was then that he realized he would have to get his name out there on his own by participating in as many baseball showcases as possible. Clippard took an obvious negative and spun it into a positive. \"It was a bitter pill to swallow but I look back on it now and I realize that it probably was going to happen sooner or later and I am just thankful that I was able to learn such a valuable lesson so early in life without hurting others or myself\", Clippard told PinstripesPlus.com. \"It helped me mature pretty quickly and you can bet I'll never do that again.\"
\r\n
\r\nWithout being able to play for his high school his senior year, Clippard found limited options at the collegiate level, drawing interest primarily from the University of South Florida. Still a very talented player, it was Clippard's hard work at the showcases that impressed professional scouts and the Yankees took a chance on him in the 9th round of the 2003 draft. Growing up a Cubs fan because of his mother's affinity for the team, Clippard admitted to us the only teams he would have signed with were the Cubs or the Yankees. Why the Yankees? \"The Yankees had such a good reputation of treating their players well and they were close to my home in Florida\", said Clippard.
\r\n
\r\nThe Yankees assigned Clippard to the Gulf Coast League to make his professional debut in 2003. Used as both a starter and a reliever, Clippard instantly displayed his tremendous poise on the mound, walking just 5 batters in 43 2/3 innings in his first year. He also struck out 56 batters, giving him a strikeout-to-walk ratio of nearly six! After an impressive Spring Training in 2004, Clippard broke camp with the low-A Battle Creek Yankees at the tender age of 19-years old. Once again, the player who teammates affectionately refer to as \"T-Clip\", demonstrated amazing control in the Midwest League. Clippard went 10-10 for Battle Creek, walking just 32 batters in 149 innings, striking out 145 batters along the way to sport an impressive 4.52 strikeout-to-walk ratio, proving that his 2003 season was no fluke.
\r\n
\r\n\"I thought my rookie season (2003) went as well as it could have\", said Clippard. \"I was a little intimidated at first because everybody was so good. Once you are put into that situation, you're a little unsure if you are going to be good enough. I proved to myself I belonged when I had a start where I gave up no runs, striking out ten and walking one guy. It gave me a ton of confidence. I was humbled a few times this past year in Battle Creek. I thought I could have done better towards the end of the year last season, but overall, I was happy about the year that I had.\"
\r\n
\r\nSome people believe things happen for a reason. For Tyler Clippard, perhaps his DUI charge early in his high school days forced him to grow up quickly. Ironically, a young man out of control earlier in his life has now become the epitome of control on the pitching rubber. One thing is certain, Clippard has looked like he has pitched with a chip on his shoulder, out the prove to the critics, and himself, that he belongs.
\r\n
\r\nBattle Creek Manager, Bill Mosiello, said it best in an interview with PinstripesPlus.com: \"For a young kid, one of the younger pitchers in the league, he (Tyler Clippard) was just outstanding. What he is, is a strike thrower and there is nothing better than that. And, he still needs to fill out and he will only get better and better. He has a chance to be a real good pitcher and will probably be near the top of the Tampa Yankees rotation next season.\"
\r\n
\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\n\r\n

\r\n \r\n Year

Team

\r\n

\r\n W-L

\r\n

\r\n IP

\r\n

\r\n H

\r\n

\r\n BB

\r\n

\r\n SO

\r\n

\r\n ERA

\r\n

\r\n 2004

\r\n

\r\n Battle \r\n Creek

\r\n

\r\n 10-10

\r\n

\r\n 149.0

\r\n

\r\n 153

\r\n

\r\n 32

\r\n

\r\n 145

\r\n

\r\n 3.44

\r\n

\r\n 2003

\r\n

\r\n GCL \r\n Yankees

\r\n

\r\n 3-3

\r\n

\r\n 43.2

\r\n

\r\n 33

\r\n

\r\n 5

\r\n

\r\n 56

\r\n

\r\n 2.89


\r\n*Stats as of 9/7/03
\r\n
\r\n

Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.
\r\n
\r\nFastball. Clippard throws a 2-seam and a 4-seam fastball, both with very good movement. His fastball averages 88-91 MPH, but he can bring it as high at 94 MPH at times. While he might not be the hardest thrower in the Yankees' farm system, he certainly has some of the best command of his fastball. He is at his absolute best when he is locating is fastball well, which has been pretty much all the time. At 6'3\", 170 lbs, and now just turning 20 years old, Clippard has the chance to fill out more and improve his velocity.
\r\n
\r\nOther Pitches. Clippard also has a very good curveball that scouts say is incredibly good for a young pitcher. Averaging 75-78 MPH with his curveball, Clippard used it more in the Gulf Coast League in 2003, but favored his changeup as his out pitch last year in Battle Creek. His changeup, which averages 78-82 MPH, has become his best pitch right now. Clippard lost some of his confidence in his curveball in 2004, but plans on using it more in the future. He plans on adding a slider/cutter down the road, but for now, he and the Yankees are focused on mastering his three-pitch repertoire first.
\r\n
\r\nPitching. The name of Clippard's game is control. He refuses to give up the free pass and goes right after hitters. He works all quadrants of the plate and forces batters to swing at his pitches. The addition of his changeup has only made his well-located fastball even better. If he can put on a little weight and add some strength, there's a good chance he could add some velocity to an already good fastball. Clippard is a bulldog on the mound and has a quiet confidence about him that will only serve him well as he progresses through the minor leagues.
\r\n
\r\nProjection. Once considered primarily a relief prospect because of his limited repertoire and slight build, Clippard projects to be more of a starting pitching prospect after the addition of his changeup. If he can keep perfecting his changeup, and possibly add a fourth pitch once he's reached the higher levels, Clippard projects to be an excellent middle-of-the-rotation starter at the Major League level. And if he can add a few more ticks to his fastball, and get stronger physically, he could even become a frontline starting pitcher with his excellent command. It is because of his excellent control that he projects to be one of the safest bets among the pitching prospects to not only reach the Major Leagues, but excel there.
\r\n
\r\nETA. 2008. We originally had set Clippard's ETA for 2008, but with the tremendous year he had in Battle Creek last season, Clippard is certainly expediting his arrival at Yankee Stadium. He seems to be a lock to anchor the Tampa rotation in 2005 and could possibly earn a promotion to AA-Trenton later next year. The part to remember with Clippard is that he is still so young. He seems to be the type of pitcher that would benefit from taking things one level at a time, year by year, which would put him on pace to reach the Majors by 2008 at the tender age of 23 years old.
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