Pittsburgh Pirates: Team Almost Signed Braden Shipley

(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Pirates apparently almost signed a former first-round pick this past offseason.  However, a failed physical stopped the deal from happening.

The Pittsburgh Pirates had the number nine and 14 overall picks in the 2013 MLB Draft.  After failing to sign Mark Appel with the eighth overall selection in 2012, the team was granted the ninth pick as compensation.  Being the team did not sign Appel in 2012, it seemed logical that the team would look to get a pitcher with one of their first-round picks.

According to MLB Pipeline’s 2013 top 100 draft prospect list, the University of Nevada right-hander Braden Shipley was ranked as the ninth best player in the draft.  Shipley had a power fastball and slider to go along with a projectable 6’2” frame.  Instead, the draft’s fifth-ranked prospect, Austin Meadows, slipped to the Pittsburgh Pirates at nine.  Still, the Pittsburgh Pirates had the 14th pick and Shipley would still be available to them.  Once again the team would pass on Shipley and ended up taking catcher Reese McGuire.

In the end, the draft decisions made in 2013 do not really matter.  Neal Huntington traded away McGuire in a salary dump and moved Meadows, who only played 49 games for the team.  Meanwhile, Shipley ended up going 15th overall to the Arizona Diamondbacks and ended up being released.  Shipley’s big-league ERA is over 5.00, so Huntington did not make a mistake by not drafting him.

According to Tim Towers of the Mail Tribune (Oregon), Shipley was set to sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates this past offseason.  Towers piece talks about how Shipley is getting a fresh opportunity with the Royals, but it discusses Shipley’s path to Kansas City.  This is when Towers writes about the Bucs and Shipley’s mutual interest:

"“…Pittsburgh was intriguing and would have landed Shipley were it not for his shoulder.Arizona did not clear Shipley medically, he said, when the Diamondbacks cut him loose, and some of the wording regarding the condition of his shoulder scared off some teams.Shipley and the Pirates had agreed to contract terms, and he was prepared to sign before they backed out.”"

The article does not outright say it but it sounds like Shipley had a contract agreed upon and ended up not passing the Pittsburgh Pirates physical.  In baseball this seems to pop up a lot, there are always trades at the deadline that hit roadblocks up because of physicals.  Each team’s doctors have their own expectations for a physical, which is why the Royals were likely comfortable signing him.

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While Braden Shipley has yet to live up to a first round talent, he might have been worth a flier.  He is a former first round pick so there is obviously talent there, but he might just need the change in scenery to tap into it.  We shall see if the Pittsburgh Pirates made a mistake by letting him walk or not.

*Mail Tribune is out of Oregon where Braden Shipley grew up and played high school baseball.