Grant Kipp – Picture by Stephanie Lynn

When the Cubs signed nondrafted free agent pitcher Grant Kipp to a contract, I got pretty excited. The Cubs, after all, have done very well in nondrafted free agency the past few summers. I thought that Kipp would be the first of many guys the Cubs would go out and get to help build up their minor league farm system. It was not to be. Kipp was the only nondrafted free agent the Cubs signed this year. He played in Mesa and in Myrtle Beach and that’s probably where he’ll be to start next year.

Basic Info

Height – 6-foot-6
Weight – 215
Throws – Right
Age – 22
College – Yale
Signed as a non-drafted free agent in August of 2022

Whenever the Cubs sign or draft anyone out of the Ivy League, many people tend to stereotype them and compare them to pitcher Kyle Hendricks. It’s an unfair label because Kyle Hendricks is one of a kind.

For Grant Kipp, he’s in no way shape or form similar as a pitcher to Kyle Hendricks. For one, he’s a lot taller. And, two, he’s not Kyle Hendricks.

Kipp’s career at Yale began in 2019 where he only pitched in three games and it was not a pleasant season. He had a 27.00 ERA in just 2.2 innings of work as a starter. When he returned in 2020, he also saw limited work with a little better ERA of 3.97. That was also the year of the pandemic as Grant only got in 11.1 innings of work while striking out 13 before the season was shut down.

At this point in his career, things were not going well and he did not pitch in college in the spring of 2021 but he did pitch in the New England Collegiate League where things went really well. He got in 31.1 innings at work with a 2.30 ERA and he also struck out 39 batters. That had to be quite the confidence boost for the tall, lanky righty. And if the Cubs scouted him there, which they probably did, it might have been the point of first contact.

This spring, Kipp started 11 games and appeared in 12 with an ERA of over seven. He got in 65 innings and struck out 56 and only walked 19. When his season ended, it did not look like he would be taken in the draft with that kind of campaign.

Kipp still had one year of eligibility left and to possibly boost his stock for 2023, Kipp went and played in the Cape Cod League for Brewster. He appeared in three games and threw 6.2 innings with a 1.35 ERA. He struck out 10 batters and only walked one. And based on that performance, the Cubs pounced as he did very well against elite competition in a wooden bat league.

At the time I wrote this post, he played in five games as a Cub where he pitched less than 10 innings. He’s likely not going to be the pitcher we are seeing this year. One of the benefits of Kipp going from college to pro is instruction is that Kipp is going to benefit from that type of individualized development. Whether that’s the actual pitching coach of each affiliate or the overall philosophy of the current pitching program, it doesn’t matter,

Here is what Arizona Phil of The Cub Reporter said about Kipp’s talents.

Also, recently signed NDFA RHP Grant Kipp (Yale) made his pro debut, getting the start for the ACL Cubs. He threw two scoreless innings, allowing two hits (both singles) and no walks, with two strikeouts (both swinging). He threw 30 pitches (19 strikes), FB  88-92, CV 77-79, and CH 80-81. He was pitching in the Cape Cod League as recently as last week, so he needed minimum prep to pitch in the game. He probably could have thrown another inning or two if the Cubs had wanted him to do that. He is a polished college senior who will likely dominate in single-A but his stuff might not play at the higher levels.  

The thing about initial comments and analysis is that they are always based on the pitcher at that time. One cannot know how that player will develop over two or three years.

When Kipp comes back in the spring, we might see a somewhat different pitcher. How much he changes physically is going to be up in the air. How much he changes his arsenal is also in question. And just exactly where he’s going to start next year is in doubt. Most likely, Myrtle Beach would be the current location to begin his first full season as a pro.

However, you never know what can happen in spring training, you never know what could happen when it comes to injuries, and you never know how much a player is going to improve anymore in the course of an off-season. There are five full months between now and when minor league spring training starts. That’s a lot of time to put on some muscle, gain a few miles an hour, tweak a couple pitch grips, and away you go.

The key for Kipp, though, is him buying into his development plan while at the same time being able to offer input into the type of pitcher he becomes. I’m really excited to see how different he is in April versus what we saw as his foundation this fall. And I will also be curious as to what role he’s going to have but it looks like the Cubs signed him to be a starting pitcher. He threw about 90 innings between Yale, Brewster, and as a pro. That’s a good foundation to begin with in 2023 as a starter in Class A.