|Dominic Pipkin, image- Jay Floyd
LAKEWOOD, NJ-- In his initial outing this season, his first appearance in full-season professional baseball, right-hander Dominic Pipkin surrendered a home run on the very first pitch he threw. Two errors and two additional runs later, the 19-year-old was an inning into his first full minor league season and wasn't about to let that sort of debut impact his outlook.
Pipkin moved forward, later surrendering another extra-base hit to Rangers top catching prospect Sam Huff, that one a double to go along with his round-tripper, but otherwise turned out a nearly flawless pair of frames to wrap up his outing.
According to Pipkin, he was initially in disbelief, but the impact of Huff's long ball may have helped him.
"I remember thinking to myself, 'Did that really just happen? The first pitch I threw just got smoked?', said Pipkin, describing his thoughts. "After that, it just turned something on a little bit. Fastballs came out harder, sliders were sharper."
Adrenaline can offer a heck of a boost. Especially for a young hurler that had never really pitched in front of a crowd.
"It’s a feeling I’ve never experienced before," said Pipkin, who was drafted out of Pinole Valley High School less than a year ago. "I got on the mound that first time and you feel your knees shake a little bit and you’re like, 'Okay. This is real.'"
The situation is definitely real. So is the talent that accompanies the Phillies' 9th round pick from last year's draft. The Phillies believed so much in Pipkin's ability and potential that they signed the California native well over slot value for $800,000 in order to get him to turn pro and pass on his commitment to play collegiate baseball.
Equipped with some serious velocity, the six-foot-four 160-pounder also tosses a change up, a slider and a curve ball.
Lakewood pitching coach Matt Hockenberry likes what he sees from Pipkin and feels that the youngster is already mature beyond his years.
"He's a 19-year-old kid that can run it up to 97 (MPH). You don't see that a whole lot and normally when you do, those guys don't know where those balls are going," Hockenberry said.
Through eight appearances (four starts) Pipkin has tallied a 1-1 record with a 4.13 ERA while striking out 22 and walking 12 in 28 1/3 innings pitched.
Upon debuting as a pro last year, Pipkin notched a 1-2 record with a 3.64 ERA while striking out 18 and walking eight in 29 2/3 innings over 10 outings (eight starts).
Even when there's an outing that doesn't go his way, Pipkin, a student of the game, finds the good in the results, striving to develop and get better each and every time out.
"I’ve been completely satisfied with my pitching so far," said Pipkin. "There’s always something positive you can pull from an outing and then of course there are negatives when there’s a bad outing, but I’ve always been able to look for something. I’ve always had that silver lining."
An impressive talent, Pipkin has already shown why the Phils thought he was worth a considerable investment.
"Pipkin challenges guys and he puts it in the zone," Hockenberry stated. "Sometimes if he misses, he misses, but it's pretty fun to watch, especially when his delivery is on and his timing and his delivery are there. The ball jumps out of his hand and it's cool to see a 19-year-old kid have the success he's having at this level."
With high upside skills, a positive focus and aggressiveness on his side, look for Pipkin to start making headway as a premiere Phillies prospect.
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