EVERY WEEKDAY FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR FutureBacks.com will bring you a profile of a top Diamondbacks prospect. That's more than 35 profiles coming to you in just over a month and a half. It all leads up to the FutureBacks.com Top 50, a ranking of the 50 best prospects on the Diamondback's horizon. Today  Managing Editor James Renwick looks up to lanky right handed pitcher Dustin Nippert.

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Top 50 Prospect Profile: Dustin Nippert

<i>Tall enough to see the top of the rotation</i>

<p><b><span style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #0099ff">EVERY WEEKDAY FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR</span></b> FutureBacks.com will bring you a profile of a top Diamondbacks prospect. That's more than 35 profiles coming to you in just over a month and a half. It all leads up to the FutureBacks.com Top 50, a ranking of the 50 best prospects on the Diamondback's horizon. Today&nbsp; Managing Editor James Renwick looks up to lanky right handed pitcher Dustin Nippert.</p>

Vital Statistics:

Name Dustin Nippert
Position Right Handed Pitcher
Age 23
Height 6'7"
Weight 215
Bats Right
Throws Right
'04 Club AA El Paso Diablos ( Texas League)

Past and Future:  Nippert might be the steal of the 2002 draft as the Diamondbacks grabbed him in the 15th round out of West Virginia.  An imposing presence on the mound at 6'7" he uses that height to maximum effect especially when working with his power curve, a pitch with so much movement one scout referred to it as 'unhittable.'  Had a benign tumor removed from his armpit in June of 2003, and missed the rest of the season because of it, but came back to dominate the Arizona Fall League that year, skyrocketing his stock with the organization.  Has a twin brother, Derik, in the Diamondbacks organization as well and was moved up to the Diamondbacks 40 man roster in mid November.  He has been working on a changeup to combat left handed hitters and if it becomes a plus pitch could very well become a front of the rotation starter for the Diamondbacks as early as '05.

AA El Paso W-L ERA K/BB IP HR allowed
Dustin Nippert 2-5 3.64 73/40 71.2 0

Pitches:  Nippert's velocity is a little hard to track.  Coming out of West Virginia he threw in the low 90's consistently with the fast ball, and it's a heavy pitch (he allowed zero home runs in is 71.2 innings at El Paso last season), and it's not even his best pitch.  His height and rotation give him a plus plus curveball that rarely gets hit hard.  Nippert's one downfall had been left handed hitting (lefties hit .300+ off him in '03) so he's been working on a changeup that has been better than average when he spots it, but very inconsistent (resulting in the 40 BBs).  If that pitch continues to improve he'll have three plus pitches to take to the BOB with him, and should stay there for awhile, as the Diamondbacks have consistently been impressed by his smooth, almost effortless delivery.

ETA:  The future is now for Nippert after being named to the 40 man roster.  Unless the Diamondbacks front office suddenly does an about-face and starts signing free agent pitchers Nippert would need only a decent spring to make the big league club, probably as a fourth or fifth starter, possibly out of the bullpen.  Once there it will simply be an adjustment process, but expect Nippert to be the #2 or #3 (depending on whether Randy Johnson is still a Snake) by the end of the season.

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