RENO, Nev. — Bradey Shipley certainly warmed things up this summer in the Alaska Baseball League.
"I just went up there and let 'er rip," smiled the Nevada Wolf Pack junior pitcher, a former North Medford standout.
Shipley, the Wolf Pack's No. 1 starter, spent the summer in Alaska working as the Anchorage Bucs' closer. He was dominant, giving up just 11 hits in 16.2 innings with a 2.16 ERA. Shipley also saved 17 games and struck out an eye-opening 29 hitters while walking just three.
And, oh yeah, he let 'er rip, all right. His fastball hit a top speed of 97 miles an hour.
"I had a great time," said Shipley, who had a pretty good time last season at Nevada when he was named the Western Athletic Conference pitcher of the year after going 9-4 with a 2.20 ERA in 15 starts.
"We had a lot of downtime so I got a lot of time to go fishing and get outdoors."
Along the way he established himself as one of the top pitching prospects in this year major league amateur draft in June.
Nevada has played one series thus far, splitting with Kansas for a 2-2 record.
Shipley, a preseason all-WAC selection by the coaches, started the season-opener, an 11-4 loss to the Jayhawks. He pitched six innings, allowed five hits, four runs — all earned — and struck out six.
He'll be on the mound again today when the Wolf Pack hosts Northern Illinois.
Shipley was named the top pro prospect in the Alaska Baseball League by perfectgame.org, which listed the top 30 prospects in the league last summer.
Here's part of perfectgame.org's assessment of Shipley:
"Though Shipley pitched much of the summer with a starter's mentality, utilizing three pitches, he was able to blow out his fastball in short bursts to a league-best 97 mph ... after 15-20 pitches (he would) dial back to a more customary 92-94. ... He also found opportunity to work in a high-70s curve and low-80s change, both of which are solid offerings. ... If anything, he greatly improved the command of all his pitches on the summer. Though Shipley does not have an overly physical frame, he is very athletic and generates his superior velocity with a very quick arm from a high three-quarters release point, enabling the ball to explode out of his hand. Shipley's rise to superior pitching status is sudden, and somewhat unexpected as he began his career at Nevada as primarily a shortstop."
Shipley enjoyed his summer in Alaska.
"The fans there are great," he said. "Rain or shine, they were always there. They love their baseball."
He also enjoyed coming out of the bullpen.
"I loved it," he said. "Maybe somewhere down the line in my future, I'll be asked to do that and now I can say I have experience doing it."
He admitted he liked to air it out when he did get on the mound.
"Pretty much," he smiled. "I threw a lot of fastballs. But I also worked on my off-speed stuff. Throwing hard can only get you so far. Everybody can hit a fastball if they know it's coming. So I had to refine my breaking stuff."
It is nice to know, though, that you can always bring that 97-mile-and-hour heater out of your back pocket when you need it.
"Yes it is," he said.
Shipley said he has in perspective the attention he will no doubt receive this season from major league scouts.
"I can't let myself think about stuff like that," he said. "The more important thing by far is for us to get back to the regionals. If I focus on all that other stuff I won't be doing anybody any good. And I don't want to put that pressure on myself.
"It's a tough thing to not think about because it's always been something I've wanted so badly. But the way I look at it, the better we do as a team, the better it will be for me in the long run."