With the MLB Draft starting yesterday, I figured it would be a good time to take a look at last year's first pick Matt Lipka, a speedy shortstop currently playing for the Rome Braves.
Lipka was the 35th pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, and started off his professional career with a bang. In 52 games last season, the 18-year-old hit .288 with one homer and 21 steals. He was already talked about as the best offensive prospect that the Braves have, and despite a slow 2011 I still think that he is.
Lipka, in 51 games so far this season, is hitting just .249 with an OBP of .303. He is just 19 years old playing Rome, the Braves A-affiliate, so you can expect some growing pains for the guy.
You can still see the athleticism though, as Lipka has picked up 11 steals . This season he has played 29 games at second base and 24 at shortstop.
Second base would probably be the better fir for Lipka, where he would have an elite arm and great range to make most plays. He's still got to work on his glove work (though as you'll see he's been pretty good at second), but he's a high character kid that will put in all the work he needs to.
The move to second may be because of his struggles with errors at shortstop, and I can't look up his UZR since he is only in the minor leagues. But he has yet to make an error at second base in 140 chances. Not too bad.
Second base or center field seem to be the best fit for his athleticism as he moves forward. There was questions as to where or not he would stick at shortstop, and the Braves seem to be accepting that. Still, Lipka has All Star-potential at second base and center field. He projects to have a plus hit tool and speed while providing good defense and position-average power.
Lipka is still likely three to four years away unless he starts ripping it up, but he is still the top offensive prospect to me in the Braves farm system.