Name: Braden Shipley
Organization: Arizona Diamondbacks
Current Team: Hillsboro Hops
DOB: 2/22/1992 (21 years old)
Acquired: 1st round 2013 (15th overall)
HT: 6’3″ WT: 200
Twitter Scouting Report:
Great body. Lightning quick arm. +FB, +CH(at least), makings of good CB. Not finished product as pitcher. Ryan Madson comp stuff wise.
Shipley has the body, the stuff, and the mechanics of an effective major league pitcher. Making him even more appealing is that this is only his third full season of focusing solely on pitching. This means coaches have more to teach him and that his arm has much lower mileage than other top arms like Mark Appel or Jonathan Gray. This is a player who could move quickly up the organizational ladder as a bullpen arm. Being drafted by an organization stacked with young pitching talent (Skaggs, Bradley, Corbin) could mean that Shipley’s developmental path is predicated by their success. Let’s say it’s 2014 and all the aforementioned DBacks are shoving in September. It’s easy to imagine them bringing Shipley up and using him out of the pen, even if he had spent the season working as a starter (a la 2008 David Price).
Great pitcher’s body. He’s the same height as myself (6’3”) but looks taller on the field, for whatever that’s worth. Long-limbed, but not lanky. Shipley could add some weight to the frame without issue. He moves around very well. Watching him play catch and run around on the field, it’s easy to see why he was previously a shortstop. Takes care of his body. When I saw Shipley, he was constantly stretching or doing something to prepare himself.
In the age of private instructors and pitching “gurus” on YouTube, more and more American-born pitchers hit the field looking very coached. If you are looking to grill the perfect steak you want to season it, prep it, and grill it all on your own. Too many American-born players come “pre-seasoned”. Shipley has a bit of seasoning, but damn is he going to be a prime cut of steak. I’m done with the crappy metaphors, so let’s look at the video.
Shipley has a very interesting mechanical profile. He is a high-energy guy, which I always like. Watching him pre-game, his arm action reminded me of those of John Lackey and Tanner Scheppers. All these guys break the hands in an atypical fashion; instead of pulling the hands apart, the throwing hand breaks straight down out of the glove. Once the arm gets going it’s fun to watch. Shipley has tremendous arm speed without exerting much effort for it. The arm speed plays well on the mound, and he doesn’t get “loose” with it and have the ball sail high and to the arm side. In the game he was consistently sticking the ball on the glove side corner (out to righties & in to lefties). He throws from a high 3/4 arm slot and keeps this slot on his off-speed pitches, but at times he’ll get greedy and throw from a higher slot with his breaking ball in an attempt to really bury the ball low in zone.
One aspect of his arm action that doesn’t draw glowing praise is how he achieves this high arm slot. He keeps solid posture early in the delivery, but once his front foot starts going forward Shipley arches his back leading to tilted shoulders when it comes time to release the ball. Guys who know much more about pitching than I do (like BP’s Doug Thorburn) are wary of these artificially high arm slots. Going further, I worry about Shipley putting his back in an arched position moments before unleashing a whirlwind of torque.
His midsection and hips work extremely well in his delivery. He’s able to keep his hips closed early in the delivery and when they do open up he is functionally strong enough to delay trunk rotation for a split section. This “tension” helps explain why he is able to throw as hard as he does.
Shipley’s lower body is particularly interesting to watch. Compare Shipley to K-Rod.
Both hurlers seemingly swing their leg into its highest point in the delivery, then the knee bends and the foot gets driven nearly straight down. Right before the foot hits the ground the leg kicks out again and reaches out for a final landing spot. Shipley’s pitching motion is like K-Rod, but without some of the mechanical theatrics.
In the context of his personal delivery, Shipley uses his lower body very aggressively and efficiently. That being said, there are some adjustments that could be made. Look at his back foot. At release point his foot is well off and in front of the mound. Gaining some distance forward is a good thing, but he needs to find a way to delay that back foot from coming through for a split second. By having that foot come off so early, Shipley is shortening his release distance and leaving some velo in the tank. While he is by no means a short strider, he isn’t getting the most out of his long, 6’3″ frame. Scary to think that he could be throwing harder and closer, but that’s a reality.
Shipley is quick to home, sitting in the 1.1-1.2 range. He shows more effort in the stretch, and he can’t get the same movement pattern with his legs. Even with an abbreviated leg lift he still creates a good downhill plane and doesn’t lose much momentum. His stuff doesn’t degrade in the stretch.
Almost more impressive is how Shipley is able to maintain timing within his delivery out of the stretch. He has a fairly complicated full wind-up, but he doesn’t fall out of sync with runners on base. His front side stays closed and, if anything, his arm can end up coming through a bit early in the delivery. He pulled his first couple pitches out of the stretch down and to his glove side, but quickly rectified his timing. If a pitcher is going to miss, I’ll take the guy who misses down and glove side over the high and arm-side pitcher every day of the week.
Fastball: Shipley throws both a four- and two-seam fastball. Velocity-wise he sits 92-93 but can run it up to 95. He was throwing both fastballs to both sides of the plate, which will end up being just another tool in his belt. The four-seamer is fairly straight, but he hides the ball pretty well, and given the solid down hill plane he gets, I have no problem throwing a future 60 grade on the pitch. There is still some velocity left in the tank with his four-seamer; I don’t see the peak coming up much higher, but Shipley could tick up to 96 with his average running up to 94. Between his bullpens and game action, I haven’t seen him purposefully elevate his four-seamer above a hitter’s hands, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just an observation.
The two-seamer sits at nearly the same velocity but doesn’t peak any higher. It has just a smidge of late arm-side run and sink. The movement isn’t staggering, but it’s enough to miss barrels. Shipley throws the two-seamer later in counts when the hitter is sitting fastball, like 2-0 and 3-1. He commands the pitch enough to coax swings out of the batters and leaving them angry after they get the 2-0 fastball they wanted only to see it move just enough to result in a ground ball off the end of the bat or down on their handle. He also preferred the two-seamer with runners on base, trying to induce ground ball double plays. While I don’t see this pitch ever getting a plus grade, it could be a solid-average offering that could garner a 55-grade on the right day.
Breaking Ball: I alternated between calling his breaking ball a slider or a curveball. It really doesn’t matter, and either way it’s a solid offering. Thrown at 82-84, the pitch has very aggressive vertical drop and enough lateral movement to backdoor left-handed hitters. On a clock, it breaks somewhere between 11-to-5 and 10-to-4. He can give the pitch away sometimes by noticeably raising his arm slot in an attempt to get on top of the ball. The pitch has the shape of a slider, but the drop of a curveball with velocity that falls soundly between the two. On movement alone the pitch is a 50 offering with a possibility for more. The development of the breaking ball will be a major factor on whether Shipley ends up as solid no. 3-4 starter or a no. 2 in a rotation.
Interestingly, he throws the pitch more to lefties than righties. He has some feel for the pitch but only enough to where he feels comfortable throwing it to only two locations. Those spots are 1) thigh-high to his arm side and 2) buried in the dirt, just off the plate to his glove side. With righties batting he only throws the slider off the plate and in the dirt. He wasn’t getting strikes looking to righties because he wasn’t starting it behind them and letting it break to the inner half of the zone. This is either because he doesn’t have trust in the pitch yet, or that he doesn’t want a low-minors hitter to open up early and smoke a double. Once Shipley learns to spot this pitch to his glove side for strikes, it’s going to be nearly unfair for righties. The pitch may not improve much but the overall utility should as he learns to harness his breaking ball and gain the ability to throw it early in counts for quality strikes.
Cambio: This is his best pitch. It doesn’t have crazy movement; in fact, it typically moves just about as much as his four-seam fastball. It does everything like his four-seamer, but it comes out at 85-86 mph. It’s a weird descriptor but it also spins very rapidly like a fastball. Quick, on which pitch is he throwing a change up here?
It’s the one on top. Even before release point, everything is the same mechanically. Same pace, same arm speed, same arm slot, etc. Mechanically the only give-away comes after the pitch is released, when you can see his fingers fan out and his hand end up in a very pronated position. The key phrase there is “after the pitch”. He will even throw the change up in fastball counts and get strikes looking and strikes swinging from the batters. This pitch has about average command and control but some pitchers work their whole career to be able to make that claim, and here is Shipley who has only been on a mound for two years.
Hitters really struggle to recognize this pitch and Shipley will throw it whenever in the count and to righties and lefties. Some evaluators have thrown 70s on this pitch; I love the pitch, but I’m not there yet. The pitch is an easy 60 and flashes 65, where it will hopefully end up.
Let’s recap. Here are the grades for Shipley:
Balance – 45
Torque – 60
Posture – 45
Release Distance – 40
Repetition – 50
Check out these two articles for an explanation of grading mechanics.
Pitch type: present grade / future grade
Four-seam Fastball: 50 / 60
Two-seam Fastball: 40 / 55
Breaking Ball: 40 / 50
Changeup: 50 / 65
These grades consider both the movement and the command and control of the pitch. In Shipley’s case, the breaking ball loses roughly a half grade because of its weaker command and the changeup gains a grade because of his ability to throw it for quality strikes.
Body Comp: Brendan Morrow
Player Comp: Ryan Madson
Future Role: No. 3 starter who will be a useful reliever before he assumes a spot in the rotation.