Shipley’s confidence keeps him focused
LVN Editor Emeritus
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Since he appeared in an Aces uniform to begin the 2016 season, former University of Nevada pitcher Braden Shipley has accumulated the frequent flier miles between Reno and Phoenix’s Chase Field.
The former Wolf Pack pitcher, who was drafted in the first round by Arizona in 2013, played at Mobile in 2015 and has split time between the minor and major leagues since then.
In 2016, Shipley had a 4-5 record with the D-backs in 70 innings, but in 2017, his number of innings fell to 25 innings in 10 games. Arizona primarily used Shipley in relief. At Reno, where Shipley earned a spot as one of the team’s top starting pitchers, he compiled an 8-5 record in 2016 in 119 innings pitched. He completed the 2017 season 7-6 in 105 innings of work.
Aces pitching coach Gil Heredia has worked with Shipley for three years.
“He’s more of the bullpen mold,” Heredia said of Shipley’s future with the Diamondbacks. “He had a good arm and would pitch mostly in the sixth and seventh innings.”
Yet, Shipley is positive about the upcoming season, which begins April 5 at Greater Nevada Field.
“I’m confident with myself and am going out and pitch like I can,” he said during spring training at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. “I’m taking it day by day. Whatever they decide at the end of the day, it’s out of my control.”
Shipley, who was hoping to be on Arizona’s roster when the season begins, was, instead, sent down to Reno in mid-March, a thought he also expressed in 2016 at spring training.
“I think you get a little discouraged, but you do your best because it’s part of the game. This is a business, and they’re trying to do what’s best for the team,” said the former Nevada star who was one of the top pitchers in the Mountain West Conference in 2013. “It’s not even based on performance when they send guys down. It’s a numbers game or a need for a fresh arm in the bullpen.”
“Shipley has done an exceptional job,” Heredia said. “Last spring he had a pause in his delivery with his leg lift, so there was an adjustment for him to get on track. He wanted to tinker with his delivery to find himself and now he has found himself.”
Heredia, who began his career with the San Francisco Giants in 1991 and retired in 2001 after pitching with Oakland, said Shipley’s delivery is solid, a quick temp and consistent.
“Shipley’s throwing good in the amount of time I can see where he has developed … mechanics, how to prepare himself to be successful.”
Shipley’s work ethic in Reno and his previous assignments has been stellar. He said the key for him is to be confident and consistent. As with other pitchers, they develop a bond with each other — a strong sense of camaraderie during spring training and the season. Sometimes, a trade catches them by surprise such as when Arizona traded Anthony Banda to the Tampa Bay Rays. Shipley said he hated to see Banda go because he considers the Diamondbacks’ organization as one of the best.
“You see stuff happening all the time,” he said of trades. “You’re never safe. But I really love this organization and being part of it. As with the guys in the clubhouse, you create a lot of friendships and enjoy being around them. It’s almost like family. You get to know each other on a good basis. Everybody in this room respects each other.”
His heart has been with the Aces since he played collegiate ball at Nevada because of his numerous ties he has in the Reno area. Shipley also admitted he was following the Wolf Pack basketball team and its run to the Sweet 16.
“I haven’t been able to see any games (in person), but I followed them all season,” he said.