- 2018 rating: 3.39
- 2017 rating: 4.20
- 2018 salary: League Minimum
- 2018 performance: 0-0, 3 Games, 7.20 ERA, 5 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 HR, 2 BB, 3 SO
- 2019 status: Pre-arb eligible
2018 was supposed to be a big year for Braden Shipley. After another season of being shuttled back and forth between Reno and the MLB, Shipley needed to show something to stick. Starting the season at AAA, Shipley was not good. Back to back 8 run starts prompted Mike Hazen to shift Braden into a relief role, which he explained “will increase the right-hander’s chances of making an impact with the big club later this season”.
Shipley did see a brief call-up in late June, where he replaced Jake Barrett as a fresh arm. He saw 3 appearances, culminating in allowing all 4 runs he gave up against the Marlins. He was sent down after that and wasn’t much better adjusting to his new role, pitching to a 5.36 ERA over 24 games at AAA. Although he was much better over the 2nd half of the season, scaling that ERA down to 4.38 over 24IP post-All Star break.
Despite the very up and down season, Shipley saw improved success in the bullpen, averaging 95mph on his fastball. Combined with his plus changeup, he could be an option for the D-backs in 2019 and beyond in the bullpen. Unfortunately, he won’t reach the lofty comps that were expected of him out of college, where most projections had him as a middle of the rotation starter, with number 2 potential.
So what went wrong? Well, he just never could strike anyone out. When you have middling stuff (Braden averaged just under 92mph on his fastball as a starter) and declining athleticism, hitters just pounce on every mistake you make, especially those in the hitter-friendly PCL. While he does induce weak contact, nearing 50 GB%, when his command and location is off, his natural stuff just isn’t good enough to overcome that.
While 2018 is the first year of his last chance, how he performs in 2019 will be a sign of things to come for his future as a Diamondback and a professional baseball player. As a draftee in 2013, he has served a full 6 years, with 2019 being his last under control as a minor leaguer. If things go well, the D-backs could add him to the roster going forward. If he duplicates this season, Mike Hazen and Co. could cut ties with Shipley, allowing him the ability to sign wherever a team could take a chance on the former first-rounder.