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Royals sign former first-round pick Braden Shipley to a minor league deal

Shipley was a Top 100 prospect just three years ago.

Colorado Rockies v. Arizona Diamondbacks

The Royals have signed right-handed pitcher Braden Shipley to a minor league deal. The 27-year old Shipley was a former first-round pick by the Diamondbacks in the 2013 draft, going 15th overall out of the University of Nevada-Reno. He started out strong as a minor leaguer and was ranked a Top 100 prospect by Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and MLB Pipeline before the 2014, 2015, and 2016 seasons, but struggled to make the transition to the big leagues. In parts of three seasons with the Diamondbacks, he has a 5.49 ERA in 100 innings, with just 5.8 strikeouts-per-nine innings and 4.1 walks-per-nine innings.

Shipley spent all of last season in Triple-A Reno where he had a 5.95 ERA in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League with 8.3 strikeouts-per-nine innings, working as both a starter and reliever. The Diamondbacks outrighted him off the 40-man roster in November, making him a free agent.

Shipley stands at 6’1’’ and throws a fastball that sits at 92-94 mph, mixing in a curve and changeup. He has a groundball rate of 42.9 percent in his MLB career and well over the 40s in his minor league career, but has still had some trouble with the longball. He could benefit from a move to the bullpen, although his career numbers as a reliever are actually worse than as a starter. His strikeout numbers go up, but so do his OPS against and ERA, although his relief numbers are a small sample size of just 25 innings.

It is easy to see why the Diamondbacks cut bait on their former first-round pick, but he is not far removed from being considered one of the best prospects in baseball and there could be some talent the Royals could unlock from him. Shipley may not be a big name, but this is the kind of deal the Royals should be making, grabbing players who have physical skills or pedigrees despite not much in results, who are young enough to have upside.