The Reds have signed right-hander Braden Shipley to a minor league contract that contains an invitation to Major League Spring Training, per a team announcement.
Shipley, 29 later this month, was the No. 15 overall pick by the Diamondbacks in 2013 and was considered to be among the game’s more promising pitching prospects in the years after that draft. Things obviously haven’t panned out that way, however.
Shipley had some success in the low minors, but his strikeout rates plummeted in Double-A and have yet to really recover. His fastball velocity upon reaching the Majors in 2016 was south of its peak levels from his top prospect days, and Shipley wasn’t able to fool opponents over parts of three seasons on the D-backs’ staff. From 2016-18, he totaled an even 100 innings of work but was clobbered for a 5.49 ERA and a 5.31 SIERA to match. Shipley was punching out nearly a quarter of the hitters he faced in the low minors, but in the Majors he’s managed a dismal 14.3 percent strikeout rate against a 10 percent walk rate — the latter of which is considerably higher than his minor league rates.
Shipley hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2018, and in addition to his struggles at the game’s top level, he’s been hammered for a 5.17 ERA in Triple-A — albeit in a very hitter-friendly setting (and with a juiced ball in 2019). He’s whiffed just 16.7 percent of opponents in Reno and hasn’t offset that lack of strikeouts with plus control or a heavy ground-ball rate.
Still, Shipley is a former high-end prospect who’ll pitch all of next season at 29. There’s little risk in bringing him in to see if the Reds’ pitching factory can unlock something, but it’s hard to overlook the fact that the Reds haven’t really brought in any outside pitching help aside from their recent agreement with Sean Doolittle.