The Indians drafted Jason Kipnis in the second round of the 2009 draft as an outfielder out of Arizona State. After a short stint in Mahoning Valley at the end of the 2009 season, the front office moved him from the outfield to second base. That type of switch doesn't always work out, but Kipnis not only took to second quickly but also continued to hit. Now, after splitting his 2010 season between Kinston and Akron, Kipnis is one step from the majors, and a season or possibly less from becoming the Indians' starting second baseman.
Besides his day job, Kipnis also maintains a Twitter (@TheJK_Kid) and Facebook account. He also found time during the busy transition from spring training to the regular season to answer some questions.
* * *
Let's Go Tribe: You made the transition from the outfield to second base last year; usually, that's a tough move. What was the most difficult aspect of the position to learn?
Jason Kipnis: It's hard to narrow it down to just one thing that's tough on any position change. Going from the outfield to the infield, there were many obstacles besides just getting used to groundballs instead of flyballs. Knowing where I'm supposed to be positioning-wise on all plays, and my responsibilities, was something that was and still is my biggest challenge. In the outfield, you have the game in front of you, but when you move closer to the infield, now the whole game surrounds you, and it’s tough to always be in the right spot.
LGT: Have the Indians given you anything specific to work on in Columbus?
Kipnis: There's a bunch things that each player tries to concentrate on and needs to improve in order to reach their potential. I have numerous things to work on just like the next guy. What they want from me is to get the in-game experience at AAA and make the adjustments it takes to slow the game down at that level. They're pushing me through the system, but it's at the rate that we both feel I can handle, become comfortable, and be ready to move to the next step.
LGT: Have you had to make any tweaks to your swing as you've progressed through the organization? If so, what kind of adjustments have you made?
Kipnis: I made numerous adjustments and changes to my swing before the start of my first full season. Making the switch to a wood bat, you no longer have all the benefits that come with a metal bat. The margin for error is smaller with the wood bats, so you have to be refined. Two of the major adjustments I tried to make were (1) taking away the bat wrap I had, where I held it too far behind my head, and (2) being shorter — a more direct swing to the ball. Taking away the bat wrap put my hands in a better position to succeed, and the shorter swing created more backspin to all fields. I haven't perfected either, and it’s something I'll have to consistently maintain and work at, but I like that it's headed in the right direction.
LGT: How was it being part of major-league camp? What's the biggest difference between the two camps?
Kipnis: It was a cool experience getting to play in the major league spring training for the first time. The main difference between them that stands out are the main focuses of the camps. The minor league spring training focuses more on fundamentals and teaching the game, while the big league players just focus more individually because they know who they are as a player already. You see a lot more drills and basic work with the lower level guys then you would up top. Up top, players already have their routines and have developed ways to prepare themselves for the season, so it’s a lot more specific work that gets done. It was pretty fun for me to sit back and take it all in this year. I got to just sit back and watch the way veterans would go about their business, their routines, and the way they handled their daily work.
Kipnis: Hah, we're both by no means scratch golfers, but don't challenge us or mention that, because we'll scramble with the best of them. Lonnie doesn't like to use a driver off the boxes so I'll have him there. He's got me with the long irons, but once we get closer and around the greens, my chipping finesse trumps his toned down hacks. Putting is a draw since we have the same chance of making a 40 ft putt as we do a 7 ft one, which is not good.
Jason's Career Offensive Stats and Game Played by Position:
|2010||23||2 Teams||2 Lgs||AA-A+||133||592||518||159||32||8||16||74||9||55||107||.307||.386||.492||.878||255||13|
|2010||23||2 Teams||2 Lgs||AA-A+||2B||121||611|
|2B (1 season)||2B||121||611|
|CF (1 season)||CF||7||9|
|LF (1 season)||LF||18||39|