Dodgers pitching prospect and former Texas A&M Aggie Ross Stripling was kind enough to make his Lasorda’s Lair debut Saturday afternoon from Camelback Ranch. Stripling, who is ranked as a top 10 prospect by every prospect ranking around, is making his first appearance at Major League Camp this Spring as a non-roster invitee. Stripling remains one of the most impressive players I’ve seen pitch in person in the high altitude of Ogden Utah. His first full professional season wound up with him jumping all the way to AA. Overall he ended the 2013 season with 8 wins, a 2.82 ERA, 117 KO’s and just 30 walks in 127.2 IP, he allowed just 5 HR’s while demonstrating an advanced feel for the art of pitching.
What makes his numbers even more impressive is that he didn’t begin throwing a baseball until his Senior year in high school, when a broken leg forced him off the basketball court and onto the pitchers mound. He picked up a baseball just a few years later, without the assistance of working with a pitching coach throughout his youth, he has quickly developed a solid 4 pitch mix while quite literally still honing his craft. One of his greatest strengths is his ability to generate a tremendous downward plane as he delivers the ball to the plate, which allows him to keep the ball low in the strike zone. He developed this important trait learning to pitch while his broken leg was still recovering, and for Dodgers fans there is a lot to like about the 24 year old right-hander.
*Disclaimer* Stripling was kind enough to spend nearly 20 minutes talking about the experiences he’s had thus far during his first big league camp, the difficulty of watching his close friend and college roommate Michael Wacha defeat the Dodgers twice during the 2013 NLCS, his natural ability to rapidly learn 4 quality pitches, and several other topics. Unfortunately for all of us I made the embarrassing mistake of failing to actually hit the record button on my Sony Bloggie HD video camera, so below you will see only the last 10 minutes of our conversation, instead of the whole interview which personally was the easiest one I’ve ever conducted. And not to brag but despite my technical blunders Stripling even told me that what you see below was one of the best interviews he’d done as well, and as you’ll see it has nothing to do with me firing off great questions, he’s just a tremendous young man who was obviously raised the right way and is extremely easy to talk to.
What you see is definitely what you get with him and I apologize profusely as we had put together some really good stuff during the initial part of the interview. He actually offered to conduct the entire interview again, but I couldn’t take up any more of his time due to my technical error. It was hard enough just to have walk back in the clubhouse while he was taking part in a heated ping pong doubles match and tell him of my “rookie mistake.” But again he was extremely cool about my blunder and didn’t give me too much of a hard time, even though I totally deserved one.
So the interview begins as we were talking about his development as a pitcher and I had asked him if he had ever run into the problem of tipping his pitches. So on that note sit back and enjoy!
The link to the video is here if you cannot view it in your browser for any reason. Thank you to Ross for taking the time to talk with me, and I wish him nothing but the best. If his first 2 years are any indication he has a bright future ahead of him with the Dodgers, which could see him make his Chavez Ravine debut sometime during the 2014 season. If you have the chance to see him pitch in Chattanooga or Albuquerque if he does begin the year in the minors I would strongly recommend you do so, you will not be disappointed. Finally, I would recommend you follow him on Twitter by clicking here, he’s got just over 3,000 followers but if his young professional career continues the way it has begun that number will grow rapidly. Plus you can brag that you were already on the Stripling bandwagon when he’s famous and hits the bigtime. Best of luck to Ross Stripling, one of the coolest young prospects I’ve had the good fortune to have met during my time with Lasorda’s Lair.