D-backs' Shipley solid in pro debut

First-round pick pitches two shutout innings, strikes out two

By Jake Seiner / MiLB.com | July 2, 2013 10:34 PM ET

Braden Shipley was trying to treat it like any other game. And on the outside, he certainly made it seem that way. But that doesn't mean his professional debut came and went like just another start.

"It felt weird at first," the D-backs' 2013 first-round pick said. "I had the adrenaline pumping in the first inning. And then I went out for the second and I was a little bit tired just from pitching off all that adrenaline."

The 21-year-old right-hander worked effectively through his debut Tuesday night, calling on his full arsenal to retire six of the seven batters he faced in short-season Hillsboro's 3-2, 11-inning loss to Eugene.

Shipley allowed one hit in his two-inning stint. He struck out the first two hitters he faced, getting both Wynton Bernard and Henry Charles swinging, then retired Anthony Torres on a groundout.

In the second, Eugene's Trae Santos hit a leadoff double on a line drive to right field, took third on a passed ball but was stranded as Shipley got consecutive groundouts from Ryan Miller, Michael Miller and Michael Bass.

MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo rated Shipley as the ninth-best prospect heading into the Draft, grading his fastball as plus with the chance to be better. The 6-foot-3 right-hander has been clocked at 98 mph, making use of what Mayo described as a "quick, loose arm." His secondary offerings are not as advanced, but he has a breaking pitch and a changeup that could both become at least average offerings at the Major League level.

Despite being on the mound for the first time in five weeks, Shipley said he felt good using all three offerings from the outset Tuesday.

"I had all three pitches straight out of the gate," he said. "I knew I was only throwing two innings, but I was treating it like I was going deep into the game."

The D-backs' game plan for Shipley the rest of the summer is to cap him at around 150 innings by limiting his starts to three innings as he acclimates to pro ball. He pitched 107 1/3 innings for the University of Nevada this spring.

After being recruited as a shortstop, Shipley's arm impressed the Lobos coaching staff so much, they moved him to the mound full-time. The right-hander had a strong sophomore season and followed that with a dominant junior campaign in 2013. This spring, he went 7-3 with a 2.77 ERA in 15 starts. He struck out 102 batters, walked 34 and surrendered only four homers while limiting foes to a .218 batting average.

The D-backs picked Shipley 15th overall, making him the first Nevada product taken in the first round, and signed him on June 18 for a reported $2.25 million.

He reported to Hillsboro on June 19, and he and fellow 2013 first-rounder Aaron Blair have been working with Hops pitching coach Doug Drabek -- a former Cy Young Award winner.

"He's a great guy," Shipley said. "He has a lot of information that obviously he can give to us young guys. It's tough because they want to let us go out and pitch, especially the guys from the current Draft. They're not trying to work with us too much right now.

"They're letting us do our own thing, letting us get our feet wet and find out what it's like pitching in pro ball."

Tuesday was particularly special for Shipley because plenty of family and friends were on hand. He hails from Medford, Ore., which is a little under three hours from Eugene. Shipley's dad, Mike, as well as siblings, aunts, uncles, former coaches and friends were able to make the trip to see him.

In all, the debut couldn't have gone much smoother for the 21-year-old.

"The last couple of weeks have been pretty hectic," he said. "Once I got to Hillsboro, it felt better to be in the place and get a chance to step on the field and put on a uniform and everything. It was crazy with the Draft and all that. I'm glad to finally be back on the field, have it over with and be playing ball."

Emeralds starter Jeffrey Enloe allowed three hits and struck out seven over six scoreless innings. Eugene tied the game, 2-2, on Bernard's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth, then won it in the 11th on Ronnie Richardson's RBI single.

Jake Seiner is a contributor at MLB.com. Follow him at Twitter at @Jake_Seiner. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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