Hillsboro, Oregon —— It’s never a bad idea to make the All-Star Game your best day, and Colorado Rockies outfield prospect Daniel Jipping did just that when he hit 23 home runs to win the Northwest League/Pioneer League‘s joint home run derby on Tuesday evening at Ron Tonkin Field in Hillsboro. And while taking batting practice hacks aiming for the moon is an easy way to leave viewers drooling over the raw power that’s obvious in Jipping’s swing, there’s more to the Central Michigan University product than just a home run derby championship — and he could become the next in an interesting line of sleepers moving steadily through the Colorado Rockies’ organization.
If you haven’t seen the whole thing on video yet, let’s just get this out of the way first… here’s Daniel Jipping hitting 23 home runs—and taking another few dozen monster hacks—representing the Boise Hawks at the NWL/PL Home Run Derby on Tuesday evening:
And for those seeking more realistic game action, here’s how the Colorado Rockies outfield prospect looks when he’s being thrown live-game stuff and not, you know, BP fastballs down the middle:
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So why Daniel Jipping, and what is it about him that goes beyond one really good night in Hillsboro? For one, I’m surprised at how physical he is in person. Listed at 6’2″, 232 lbs., he’s every bit of that and then some, especially in weight, with a ton of muscle on his body that pegs him more mature than most 21 year-olds. He’s got an ideal corner outfielder/power hitter build, and while he must yet prove that can manifest itself as over-the-fence pop against full-season minor league competition, he has natural strength and stature more impressive than anyone else I saw in Hillsboro this week. That alone no doubt made for an attractive pre-draft projection for the Colorado Rockies, I’d imagine.
Beyond that, Jipping is cocky—and I mean that in the best way. You could tell there were some nerves going around at the home run derby on Tuesday, but they all came from the other contestants while the Rockies prospect stayed loose, had fun, and yeah, got a little into it while obviously feeling himself. The home run derby is fun; there’s nothing wrong with that. Beyond that, it’s never a bad thing to draft a guy with a little bit of confidence and even cockiness (so long as it doesn’t eventually manifest itself into laziness). This game is harder than hell, and if you’re able to believe in yourself even just a little bit more than the other guy, you might be surprised what happens. I know that isn’t quantifiable and is likely a difficult concept for the sabermetric-friendly to wrap their heads around, but Jipping has an air about how he carries himself that—without showing anybody up unnecessarily—looks to me like he knows he’s better than his opposition. Whether or not it’s true, the mindset is noteworthy and can work in his favor over the winding course of full-season ball.
Physically at the plate, he’s not all raw muscle and strength. Jipping’s home runs are coming from a good idea about leverage in his swing and above-average bat speed through the zone more so than they are from his musculature. That’s a good sign for his future, as it appears he intuitively understands how to lift the ball with authority. He’s more of a high-ball hitter than some, and I’d love to get a much longer look at him in game action to understand how he fights against pitcher sequencing and off-speed stuff, but he’s pretty well balanced and his swing mechanics alone are ideal for what he’s to do in the future: platoon in the outfield with pop off the bench.
That’s the other thing about Daniel Jipping: the Colorado Rockies have a very deep farm system, and I don’t want to push the notion here that he’s a top-30 list guy. He’s not. A big year in 2018—ideally in Low-A or split between there and in High-A—might push him into the very back of the Rockies’ top-30 prospects list a year from now just as it did first baseman Brian Mundell ahead of this season, and I think that’d be a good fit if Jipping puts together a good 2018 in full-season ball. But he’s not a can’t-miss prospect in the mold of Brendan Rodgers or Ryan McMahon, and optimism should at least be tempered here until Daniel Jipping proves himself over 500+ plate appearances at a full-season stop (or two).
But that’s getting ahead of ourselves, anyways. Where I end up on Daniel Jipping is this: the Colorado Rockies drafted an insanely physical outfielder who already has a good grasp on his power stroke, and guys like that tend to do pretty well in this organization. I haven’t seen him play outfield enough to write it up (hence the narrative style piece here instead of an explicit scouting report), but my hunch is that he’s a fourth outfielder long-term who will do some damage off the bench. That’s a valuable role, especially from a 22nd round draft pick, and while Daniel Jipping is still miles away from reaching it, he’s well worth keeping in the back of your head as he progresses through the Rockies’ minor league system. A few bombs along the way won’t hurt, either.