PHOENIX — Braden Shipley has found you can go home again. Or at least get close.
Shipley, the Diamondbacks’ first pick in the 2013 draft, will begin his professional career in his home state of Oregon after signing a contract with a $2.25 signing bonus at Chase Field on Tuesday.
A native of Medford, Ore., Shipley will join the Class A Hillsboro Hops on Wednesday, a Portland suburb that is about five hours up I-5 from his home town.
“I’m ready to play some baseball,” Shipley said.
“I’m excited about it. Home-state boy, going up and playing. Being close to home, that is just a bonus for me. Now it’s time to do what I need to do and perform.”
The D-backs, as they do with most of their pitching prospects, will ease Shipley into his first pro season. He was 7-3 with a 2.77 ERA at the University of Nevada this season, and had 102 strikeouts in 107 ⅔ innings.
“With the layoff after the (college) season ended, the plan is to kind of s-l-o-w-l-y get him back in. We don’t want to put him in harm’s way in any stretch. I know he is anxious. I know he is fired up. That speaks to the competitor. We’ll build him up slow,” D-backs scouting director Ray Montgomery said.
Shipley, a shortstop his freshman season at Nevada before transitioning to the mound, has a fastball that was clocked in the high-90 mph range, although he pitches more in the mid-90s. He complements that with a curve ball and a changeup. He was the WAC pitcher of the year in 2012, when he was 9-4 with a 2.20 ERA.
“What he did in college speaks for itself,” Montgomery said. “We want to get him up on our system and get him into our throwing program. He’s advanced, but he still has things to learn. I’m not going to put a number (innings) per se, I’m just going to make sure the health and the care of his arm we build back up, and put him in a good position at the end of the year.”
With that in mind, the D-backs will keep Shipley on a starter’s regimen, but he likely will start out pitching only a few innings at a time while rebuilding arm strength.
Because of his limited time on the mound, the D-backs see a large upside for Shipley, and they were surprised that he lasted until the 15th pick of the first round.
“It’s one of the rare instances where you have a combination of athleticism and stuff, and you can sort of dream a little bit that when he gets to our people and starts to improve on those things, he still has ceiling. He has room to grow. He’s competitive. He’s driven,” Montgomery said.
“Obviously I want to do well and just improve. I want to keep getting better every day and progress toward getting it to the big leagues,” said Shipley.