Jason Kipnis' biggest strength is his bat. He has a very quick swing and strong wrists, which allow him to start his swing late and give him time to identify pitches. His polish at the plate is apparent. He doesn't chase breaking balls outside the zone. He's patient, has a great eye, and works the count well, regularly putting himself in a position to drive his pitch. And he's typically very balanced when he does take a breaking ball -- his legs don't buckle on many breaking balls. Kipnis has a level, line-drive swing but still generates a decent amount of power due to his bat speed.
When I watched Kipnis face Alex White on June 14, 2009, he struggled with White's low-90s inside fastballs. Pro pitchers may handcuff him with inside fastballs until he proves he can manage them -- if he can make that adjustment.
Defensively, Kipnis may lack the first-step quickness to play center field in the upper minors and majors. But he has decent overall speed and could be a good defensive corner outfielder.
A fourth rounder in the 2008 Draft as a draft-eligible sophomore, Kipnis elevated his stock and landed in the second round (63rd overall) in 2009. Along with Dustin Ackley, Kipnis' collegiate career put him among elite company in Lincoln Hamilton's quantitative bats study. Lincoln said the following about Kipnis in that piece:
"A transfer from Kentucky, Kipnis has been nothing but spectacular as a Sun Devil. The 5-foot-10 Kipnis gets knocked for his size and lack of standout tools, although patience isn’t considered a tool…for some reason. In each of the past two years Kipnis has walked over 16.5%; his on-base ability is elite.
While he may not have a true plus tool, he doesn’t have a minus one either meaning his raw talent is similar the average big leaguer. That isn’t a bad thing. Kipnis is the kind of guy who will always maximize his ability, because he’s a good natural hitter with a great eye at the plate who gets bonus points for always playing hard and hustling. I can’t look at Kipnis without thinking of Nate McLouth with a few more walks."
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