Draft Tracker: Feb. 27
Draft Tracker returns as part of Baseball America's 33rd year of draft coverage, including 14 drafts here at BaseballAmerica.com. Here are scouting reports on three college pitchers off to a good start to the 2013 season . . .
Bradey Shipley, rhp, Nevada
Shipley's ascension has many parallels to Kyle Zimmer's from a year ago.
While Zimmer is a little bigger—Shipley is listed at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds—both players were seen more as position players before transitioning to the mound in college. Neither player was a big prospect out of high school and Shipley went undrafted at North Medford (Ore.) High.
"He's obviously taken it to another level," Nevada volunteer assistant pitching coach Pat Flury said. "Last year, it started to get there over his last four starts, you started to see a little transformation. Then obviously this summer is where he took off and he just rode that wave right into the season."
As a sophomore, Shipley went 9-4 while leading the Wolf Pack with a 2.20 ERA. He struck out 88 and walked 40 over 15 starts and 98 innings. He headed to the Alaska League for the summer and easily ranked as the league's top prospect. Over his first two starts in 2013, Shipley is 1-0, 3.21 with 16 strikeouts and four walks over 14 innings.
Shipley's fastball now sits in the 93-95 mph range and tops out at 98, and Flury said he's improved the command of the pitch this year. Shipley has a very good changeup and his curveball is currently his third best pitch, but it too has gotten sharper this season.
"When it's on, it's just as dirty as his changeup," Flury said. "It's just that his changeup, he could throw that sitting in a lawn chair. It's at a whole different level."
Just as impressive as Shipley's stuff is his athleticism and work ethic. Flury said the coaching staff has had to tone down Shipley's vigorous workout routines, but he pushes himself hard because he knows what it takes to make it to the next level, as his cousin, Jordan Shipley, is a wide receiver in the NFL.
Shipley also has another pitch in his back pocket: a cutter he's been toying with during his bullpen sessions.
"I haven't let him throw it yet because he can't quite command it yet and there's so much attention on what he does," Flury said. "If he doesn't throw it this year, he definitely will next year as a pro. It's his secret weapon . . . He's just a stud because he's such a good athlete and a competitor. He's going to be a monster."
Chris Anderson, rhp, Jacksonville
Anderson got things off to a great start in Jacksonville's season opener, throwing seven shutout innings with one hit, one walk and 13 strikeouts against Radford. He showed a premium fastball that night, topping out at 96 mph.
"He's been pretty consistently 91-94 (mph)," said Jacksonville pitching coach Tim Montez, who becomes head coach next year. "He can kind of add a little bit more when he wants to, but the thing that he's done a great job with is that he throws four pitches for strikes and he's learning how to change speeds. That's just part of his maturity since his freshman year."
Montez has plenty of experience coaching big-time college pitchers. He helped recruit and/or coach Barry Zito at UC Santa Barbara, Cliff Lee at Arkansas and Matt Garza and Doug Fister at Fresno State and Anderson has some similar traits to those guys.
"He's a lot like Matt Garza was at Fresno State where, by the time they were juniors, they learned how to pitch and change speeds and pitch off of their fastball," Montez said. "The mental game is probably the thing that they were able to get a grasp on to help them get to the next level. All the credit goes to Chris and I think him being an all-state high school quarterback has a lot to do with his demeanor."
Anderson, who stands 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, was a two-sport star at Centennial High in Circle Pines, Minn. He was drafted in the 35th round in 2010 by the Cubs. Now Anderson has a two- and four-seam fastball and his slider is his best out pitch. He's working to improve his changeup and his curveball. He shows a lot of poise on the mound and keeps a very even keel, even when things don't go his way. That happened more in 2012, when Anderson was 5-4, 4.48 as a starter, than it did in 2011 as a closer, when Anderson went 4-2, 3.91 with 11 saves.
"In that whole season, all he had to do was throw his fastball and his slider for short periods of time, so he could just let it go," Montez said. "Last year, when we made him into a starter, he had to learn about preparation and about pacing himself and learning to change speeds more, especially learning the changeup, which has become a very good pitch for him.
"His ability to locate his fastball now on a consistent basis downhill has really, really been the biggest improvement since his freshman year, which has made all his other pitches that much better because he can pitch off his fastball."
Alex Gonzalez, rhp, Oral Roberts
While he's been a little unlucky in the wins column, Gonzalez's stuff has been very good out of the gate.
"He's thrown the ball exceptionally well his first two starts," Oral Roberts pitching coach Sean Snedeker said. "He's been in the 90-93 mph range, his fastball has life and he commands it really well to both sides. I think the thing that kind of sets him apart is he's got a plus cutter. It's a pitch he's kind of developed over the years. I'm new here at ORU, so this is the first year I've worked with him, but he's well-equipped with four quality pitches and I would say the fastball and the cutter are both major league plus pitches. We're developing a curveball and his changeup is coming along nicely. Those aren't quite impact-type pitches yet."
Prior to joining the Golden Eagles' coaching staff, Snedeker spent six years as the pitching coach at Duke, where he saw righthander Marcus Stroman emerge as a first-round pick last year. Prior to that, Snedeker spent 12 seasons as a pitching coach in the White Sox organization and one with the Dodgers. He pitched at Texas A&M and then spent six years in the minor leagues with the Dodgers.
Gonzalez, who was an 11th-round pick of the 2010 draft out of Boca Raton (Fla.) Community High by the Orioles, has a solid frame at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds. Snedeker said it's rare to hear someone call him Alex; everyone knows him as "Chi Chi."
Gonzalez was up to 96 mph this fall, but hasn't been that high yet this spring.
"He's pitched in two extremely cold conditions, both in the low 40s," Snedeker said. "I saw it in the fall. He can run it up there pretty good and I'm assuming that once the weather warms up and he gets into some conditions that are more conducive to velocity, that you'll see a spike in his velocity, up there in that mid-90s range."
Gonzalez has more than just intriguing stuff on the mound, though.
"He's got an attack mentality," Snedeker said. "And I love that part of him. He pitches with a lot of confidence. He believes in himself and he's an exceptional teammate. He's just going to go out there and do his part to try and help our team win."
So far this season, Gonzalez is 0-2, 1.20 with 15 strikeouts and three walks over 15 innings. Making the step to the next level will require a dependable third pitch.
"I spent 20 years in pro baseball and I'm really in-tune to the developmental side of things and I know to pitch at the professional level and certainly at the major league level, if you're going to start, he's got to have that third pitch," Snedeker said. "He's got to have that changeup, which I'm a big believer in, so we're going to continue to work extremely hard on that. He's come a long way with it and it's developing nicely, and now it's just a matter of him developing some confidence in it to throw it in fastball counts and things like that. That'll be the pitch that will really make him attractive to professional scouts and he should be a pretty high draft pick in June."