PCL notes: Aces' Shipley still learning

D-backs' top prospect returns to college town for first Triple-A stint

Braden Shipley was named Mountain West and Western Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year at Nevada. (Jeff Chiu/AP)

By Chris Jackson / Special to MiLB.com | April 25, 2016 10:00 AM

From the day he was drafted by the Diamondbacks in 2013, Braden Shipley knew there was a chance he could find himself back in his college town.

Shipley was Arizona's first-round pick out of the University of Nevada, which plays its home games in Reno, the same city where the Diamondbacks have their Triple-A team.

Three years later, the right-hander finds himself back where he began.

"Being back in Reno has been great," said Shipley, the D-backs' No. 1 prospect. "It's where I went to school and everything, so I'm familiar with the city. It's pretty special having those fans and getting a good ovation when I took the mound my first start there."

There are differences, of course, between the college game and pro ball.

"Through my first few starts, it's different, this league is different," Shipley said. "There's a learning curve there, so I'm going to have to adjust and just stick to my game plan."

Of course, anytime a Minor Leaguer has familiarity with the city in which he plays, teammates ask all sorts of random questions.

"For me, it's kind of funny because guys ask me when we're back home, 'Hey, where's a good spot to eat, where are some of the fun places to go and fun things to do,'" Shipley said. "That part's a little [fun] for me."

None of it has been a distraction for Shipley, much to the relief of his manager.

"He's been very businesslike [even though] I know he's excited to be there," Aces skipper Phil Nevin said. "He's been really good."

In addition to being familiar with Reno, Shipley also gets to play in a lot of other cities and stadiums that he saw in the Mountain West Conference. Albuquerque, in particular, stood out as far as memories.

"In 2013, it was my junior year and I pitched Friday night at this park and then Saturday we showed up and we had a game, I think, at 2 o'clock and the wind was just howling that day," Shipley said. "We ended up getting winded out. It was canceled by wind. They had some trash cans on the upper decks blowing down onto the bottom, so it was probably a good thing they called it."

Memories, good and bad, are one thing, but the present remains Shipley's focus. After winning his first two starts, he gave up six runs over six innings against the Isotopes on Thursday, ballooning his ERA to 5.71 over 17 1/3 frames.

"Through the first three, I think I've been throwing the ball well," he said. "My stuff is doing what I want it to do. I'm throwing downhill and down in the zone, for the most part.

"As far as adjusting and stuff, that's going to come over time with experience. I'm excited to be here and we'll see where it goes from here."

In brief

Paragon of patience: Albuquerque Isotopes right fielder Jordan Patterson said he's always waiting to swing at the right pitch and if none is offered, he'll gladly take a walk. So far, the Rockies' No. 23 prospect has done just that, drawing 16 walks to lead the PCL, while sitting third with a .493 on-base percentage.

Lead the way: Memphis center fielder Charlie Tilson has found a home in the leadoff spot. In nine games in that role, the Cardinals' ninth-ranked prospect has hit .375 (12-for-32) with five runs scored.

Pound for Pounders: Omaha right-hander Brooks Pounders is rounding back into form after being limited to 68 1/3 innings last season due to injury. Through four games, including three starts, the Royals' No. 29 prospect is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA and 21 strikeouts over 18 innings.

Chris Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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