(Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports)
For those of you not familiar with Dodgers’ pitching prospect Ross Stripling, you probably will be soon. He was actually on the doorstep of the big league rotation when a damaged UCL during spring training in 2014 required him to have Tommy John Surgery, wiping out his entire season. He would bounce back in 2015, though, and after a very successful spring camp this year, finds himself on the fringes of the Dodgers’ 25-man roster once again.
Stripling’s four-seamer may not be the fastest on the radar gun, but his arsenal of breaking pitches is just plain nasty. He has solid command of four quality pitches — his fastball, which he can locate anywhere in the zone, a really vicious, hard slider, a changeup with a ton of movement, and his trademark plus-plus curveball that has a super amount of break.
If 2016 Cactus League play is any indication, Stripling has shown that he’s ready for whatever the Dodgers’ organization may ask of him. In six total innings over three appearances, he hasn’t surrendered a run, having allowed only one hit while striking out six batters.
Plus, the man is totally humble. Nowhere in the following interview did he even mention that he threw a no-hitter on his college graduation day. And as you can see from his marriage proposal, he’s a bit of an old-fashioned gentleman as well.
I was very excited for Stripling to be my first subject in hopefully a long line of Q&A interviews with members of the Dodgers organization. Several of my Twitter followers had interesting questions for Ross, and my wife even had a question as well.
First, we decided to cover the basics:
TBPC: Favorite musician?
Stripling: Rob Thomas or Garth Brooks
TBPC: Favorite TV Shows?
Stripling: Entourage and Game of Thrones
TBPC: Guilty pleasure?
Stripling: “Cookies And Cream” Ice Cream
TBPC: Coolest contact?
Stripling: Greg Maddux
TBPC: Hidden talent?
Stripling: Licensed stock broker
Consequently, we moved on to the more subliminal types of questions:
TBPC: If you could have any super power what would it be?
Stripling: I’ve always said I’d like to read minds. Haha, that seems like it’d be fun.
TBPC: Any superstitions?
Stripling: Nothing weird, just a very set pregame routine
TBPC: Most embarrassing moment?
Stripling: Wore the wrong color pants out to a game one time
TBPC: Batman or Superman?
TBPC: If you were not a baseball player what would you be?
Stripling: If I weren’t a baseball player, I’d most likely be involved in the financial world. I studied finance in college and I’m a licensed stock broker. I’d probably be in investment banking or something similar.
Finally, we got to the good stuff. Ross Stripling talks baseball:
TBPC: What is your first memory involving baseball?
Stripling: First baseball memory would be hitting with my brother in the backyard.
TBPC: Favorite stadium you have played in?
Stripling: TD Ameritrade in Omaha for the College World Series
TBPC: Biggest obstacle?
Stripling: Tommy John surgery
TBPC: What player has been the most influential in your career?
Stripling: I would say my time around Zack Greinke may have been the most influential. Just to see how he went about his business, his pitchability, preparation and arm care. I feel like I would want to pitch like him if I could. He can throw any pitch in any count with crazy precision.
TBPC: Most influential coach (to you) in the Dodgers’ system? And why?
Stripling: Matt Herges is the most influential pitching coach in my opinion. He’s really good at relating to his players. Doesn’t over coach and won’t mess with your mechanics just to do it, but when you have a question he’s going to have a good answer.
TBPC: How much of an actual “break” do you take in the offseason before you are back to getting ready?
Stripling: I take from the last day of the season until Thanksgiving Day off from throwing. I lift and run immediately.
TBPC: When you are in a tense situation and under great pressure how do you clear the mechanism so that you can concentrate?
Stripling: I clear the mechanism through deep breaths and talking to myself. I’ll picture the next pitch in my head, exactly what I want it to be and location. Just helps slow the game down.
TBPC: Did you change your pitching style after TJ surgery?
Stripling: My pitching style changed a bit. Basically tried to get into my legs a little better to alleviate some stress on my arm. But pitches, grips, arm angle, etc are all the same.
TBPC: Is there any hesitancy in really reaching back and letting a fastball go a at maximum velocity after having TJ surgery?
Stripling: There was some hesitation at first, but now it’s all good, man. I think an offseason of rest made me trust it a lot more, so now we’re all good.
TBPC: What was the mood (when you were there) in the clubhouse knowing there is a spot in the MLB rotation open?
Stripling: I didn’t really notice anyone talking about the open spot, man. It certainly didn’t change how I went about my business. May have a been a guy or two that thought about it, but no one was vocal about it, saying they thought it was their spot or anything like that.
I would personally like to take the time to thank Ross for going out of his way for this interview. He is always courteous and fan-friendly at games, as indicated from this picture from last season. We all look forward to watching him grow further as he develops and moves along in his playing career. After spending time arranging this dialogue, I realized that he’s pretty much like the rest of us — except for maybe the Greg Maddux thing.
Please feel free to comment below or stop by Twitter and give me a follow to be included in the next Q&A session. I always reach out to people on Twitter to see what other fans want to know. Thanks also go out to @Jedimind1207 and @Catch3900 for their contributions to the interview.