To put in perspective how Nippert was regarded (and therefore how he has fallen) as a prospect, here is his bio from the 2006 BA Prospect Handbook:
Considered the system’s best pitching prospect entering 2004, Nippert pitched poorly before requiring Tommy John surgery that June. He surprisingly returned in late May and won the Double-A Southern League ERA title. He picked up his first major league win with five one-hit innings against the Dodgers in late September.
In a system loaded with elite offensive prospects, Nippert is one of the few pitchers with impact potential. His fastball sits at 92-94 mph and touches 96, and he can throw his spike curveball for strikes or bury it in the dirt. He has the makings of a decent changeup, and his height and arm action allow him to deliver all of his pitches on a steep downward plane.
Nippert struggled with his control in his brief big league stint, as he lost confidence and began to nibble at the plate. His fastball can get straight, but he makes up for it with his command and his downhill plane.
Nippert will get the chance to win a rotation job in spring training. A little Triple-A seasoning wouldn’t hurt if he doesn’t make it.
BA ranked Nippert the #67 prospect in baseball that spring, one spot ahead of Cole Hamels, five ahead of Thomas Diamond, and a handful behind Edinson Volquez, John Danks and Elvis Andrus.