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  • BASEBALL

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    Medford's Shipley selected 15th overall by Arizona in first round of MLB draft
  • Such a special moment typically only comes once in the life of a baseball player, so Medford's Braden Shipley made every effort to enjoy Thursday's Major League Baseball first-year player draft.
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    • BRADEN SHIPLEY
      WHO: A 2010 North Medford High graduate and junior pitcher for the University of Nevada.
      • WHAT: Shipley was the first selection by the Arizona Diamondbacks (No. 15) and sixth pitcher chos...
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      BRADEN SHIPLEY
      WHO: A 2010 North Medford High graduate and junior pitcher for the University of Nevada.

      • WHAT: Shipley was the first selection by the Arizona Diamondbacks (No. 15) and sixth pitcher chosen overall in the MLB first-year player draft. Baseball America's projected budget for a player picked 15th in 2013 is about $2.4 million.
      • QUOTE: "I'm super happy with it ... 15th overall, I couldn't be more blessed. Arizona's a great organization."
  • Such a special moment typically only comes once in the life of a baseball player, so Medford's Braden Shipley made every effort to enjoy Thursday's Major League Baseball first-year player draft.
    The big league franchises then gave him ample time to soak in the moment as the projected No. 8 prospect by Baseball America slipped beyond the anticipated landing area for someone of his talents.
    But with close friends and family by his side at his grandparent's home in Medford, Shipley remained upbeat and had his broad smile mirrored by all those around him when he was chosen 15th overall in the first round by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
    "It was a little nerve-wracking," Shipley said of the experience, which included live in-home television coverage by the MLB Network. "Seeing yourself fall like that, it doesn't feel the greatest, but I stayed positive and I was in contact with my agent and he just kept telling me, 'Hey, you're going to go soon, don't worry about it.'"
    Once his name was called, Shipley was the fifth right-handed pitcher taken off the board and sixth pitcher overall — surprising many that he lasted that long given his pre-draft status as the likely No. 3 college pitcher behind Stanford's Mark Appel (who went No. 1 to Houston) and Oklahoma's Jonathan Gray (who went No. 3 to Colorado).
    Aaron Fitt of Baseball America said via Twitter moments later that, "Shipley feels like the best value of the first round so far — could have easily gone 5-7. Electric stuff and ridiculous athleticism."
    For his part, the 21-year-old former North Medford High standout was thrilled with his selection by the Diamondbacks, whose general manager Kevin Towers was born here in Medford and routinely returns to the Rogue Valley.
    "I'm super happy with it ... 15th overall, I couldn't be more blessed," said Shipley, who stands 6-foot-3 and is up to 195 pounds. "Arizona's a great organization."
    Shipley's selection at No. 15 marks the highest anyone from the University of Nevada has been drafted, and is the highest in recent memory for someone from the Rogue Valley. Matt Smith of Grants Pass was chosen 16th overall by the Kansas City Royals in 1994, with current Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie, an Ashland High product, selected 22nd overall by Cleveland in 2002.
    "That's awesome, it's a pretty big honor," Shipley said of his standing among draftees.
    Shipley posted a 7-3 record and 2.77 ERA with 102 strikeouts in 107.1 innings this past spring at Nevada, earning conference pitcher of the year honors for the second straight season. As a freshman, Shipley helped fill a team void at shortstop and went on to earn second-team all-Western Athletic Conference honors.
    While at North Medford High, Shipley joined Matt Maurer as a potent 1-2 pitching combination during their junior and senior seasons. Like many in the Black Tornado program, Shipley spent his freshman and sophomore seasons training with the pitchers but didn't take the mound full time until his final two years of high school. When the Medford Mustangs finished as runner-up at the American Legion World Series in 2009, he was named to the all-tournament team as a reliever.
    With a plus-fastball that touches 98 miles per hour, complemented by a changeup and curveball that each fall into the above-average MLB range, Shipley projects as a capable starter who could easily slide into a relief/closer role if the need arises.
    As someone who was believed to be drafted as high as sixth overall by the Miami Marlins, Shipley said his interactions with Arizona were limited prior to the draft.
    "I hadn't really talked to the D'backs much and talking with them tonight they were a little shocked that I even made it to them," he said. "I think a lot of guys are pretty shocked by that, but they're super happy to have me."
    Shipley said his next steps are up in the air as Arizona and his agent, Adam Karon of Sosnick Cobbe Sports, go through contract negotiations. Baseball America's projected budget for a player picked 15th in 2013 is about $2.4 million.
    "I'm eager and ready to play ball," he added of his signability. "I've only had two weeks off and I'm ready to ship out and go play baseball again. I can't wait."
    If and when he does sign, the options are diverse for someone of his first-round stock. He could wind up as close to home as Hillsboro as a member of the first-year Hops organization, which is a Class A short-season team, or more likely with the Advanced Rookie Missoula (Mont.) Osprey or Class A-Advanced Visalia (Calif.) Rawhide. Arizona's Triple-A affiliate is in Reno, Nev., with the Double-A affiliate in Mobile, Ala., and Class A team in South Bend, Ind.
    "Everything's up in the air," he said. "I didn't really talk to them a whole lot so I'm interested to see what they want to do with me, where they want to send me and all that. I may not pitch a lot this summer, they may just have me come work out, I don't know. I'll know more in the next few days but more than anything I'm just excited to get to continue to play ball. Whatever they want me to do I'll do."
    Given his background as an all-around player, Shipley said there was one definite plus about falling to Arizona against some of the other teams out there.
    "The most exciting thing for me is they're in the National League so I'm gonna get to hit again," he said. "I'm a big fan of the D'backs, they were probably my second favorite team growing up (behind the Chicago Cubs). I have D'backs gear sitting in my closet and I figured after tonight I'd have to throw it all away and get different gear, but not anymore."
    Shipley joked about now having a list of teams to get revenge on after being passed over — 13 in all since Pittsburgh twice bypassed him — but it was all in jest. This was a night of celebration, and he had no desire to see it be that way for him and anyone else in his position.
    "I'm happy for the other kids, too," said Shipley. "It's a game and you've got to keep it fun. I feel like they'd say the same about me. You've gotta stay happy for everybody because we're all doing the same thing and it's a great time and it's a time to have fun. I kept having fun and kept my spirits up and was laughing and having fun while we were watching (the draft)."
    "So many things go into it and you've just got to look at it like something positive's going to happen," he added as more waves of friends and family joined the celebration. "That's what I tried to keep telling myself and it worked out so I'm happy about it. I'm going to be a snake, it's cool."
    Arizona's first-round selections the past two years include catcher Stryker Trahan (2012) and right-handed pitchers Trevor Bauer (2011) and Archie Bradley (2011). With the addition of Shipley, all but one of Arizona's first-round picks in the past six drafts have been pitchers, although the Diamondbacks have since parted ways with ex-UCLA ace Bauer and didn't sign 2010 pick Barret Loux due to injury concerns.
    On the Missoula Osprey website, Arizona Director of Scouting Ray Montgomery offered his thoughts on adding Shipley.
    "We're looking for starting pitching and it is something you can never have enough of," he said. "Braden has three plus pitches and he's one of the best overall athletes in the draft. He's a great kid with a great family and a great pick for us."
    With the 36th overall choice in the second round the Diamondbacks tabbed right-hander Aaron Blair out of Marshall University.
    Among Arizona's top 20 prospects is ex-Grants Pass High standout Brandon Drury, who was drafted in the 13th round (404 overall) by Atlanta in 2010 but shipped to the Diamondbacks prior to this season as part of a trade for Justin Upton.
    Rounds 3-10 of the MLB draft will take place starting at 10 a.m. today, with Rounds 11-40 on Saturday.
    Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@mailtribune.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry
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