Shipley, Kindreich dial it in
Few who went up against Braden Shipley or Larson Kindreich during their standout prep baseball days here in Southern Oregon would be surprised to see opponents have trouble earning a hit off the pitching phenoms.
Within about a month of one another, however, the duo has been able to stake their claim to professional prominence after each played a role in combined no-hitters for their minor league affiliates.
Kindreich, a 2018 Crater High graduate, got the ball rolling on July 9 when his exceptional start laid the foundation for the first no-hitter by the High-A Hickory Crawdads since 2013.
Shipley, a 2010 North Medford High grad, pulled through for the Double-A Arkansas Travelers on Friday night when he capped off the team’s second no-hitter of the season.
With the local players at different levels of their careers — Shipley has already made it to the Major League level and Kindreich is just getting his feet wet as a pro — the moments proved pivotal for each but certainly more sentimental for Shipley.
Now 30, Shipley began his career as the 15th overall selection in the 2013 MLB draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks and eventually graduated to the big leagues. He eventually gravitated to the Kansas City Royals and Cincinnati Reds organizations and even served a stint with Acereros de Monclova in Mexico before latching on with the Seattle Mariners organization in March.
A former starting right-hander who now works exclusively out of the bullpen, Shipley pitched the final inning of Friday’s 6-0 win over the Northwest Arkansas Naturals to complete a combined no-hitter.
Shipley walked one but induced a clinching infield pop-up in his one-inning outing to set off a celebration by the Travelers.
“I was telling the guys that this year has been interesting for me,” Shipley told MiLB.com after Friday’s game. “It’s the first time I’ve been back in Double-A (since 2015) and I’ve just embraced it. But it was the first time in a while I’ve been nervous coming into a game. It felt good.”
“The last few years have been really rough for me,” he added. “Mainly it’s been trying to figure out, ‘Who am I? Who is Braden Shipley?’ I think with the help of a lot of people — way too many to name — they’ve gotten me to where I am today, just comfortable with who I am now.”
Prelander Berroa, the No. 24 prospect in the Mariners organization, struck out a career-high 11 over five innings to start Friday’s effort before giving way to one-inning efforts by Blake Weiman, Make Haberer, Rob Kaminsky and Shipley to seal the combined no-hitter.
This season, Shipley carries a 2-1 record and 3.45 ERA, with 10 holds in 39 games. In his 47 innings, the former Black Tornado has struck out 52 and walked 38.
“Having a lot of failures the last few years has kind of set me up to go out there and pitch with a little bit of freedom and have success,” Shipley told MiLB.com, “but more importantly share my experiences with some of these younger guys. I’ve just been so fortunate to help them, advise them, whatever I can do. It’s really rewarding and I couldn’t be happier to spend this night with them.”
Kindreich has also found plenty of rewards this summer as part of the Texas Rangers organization, which selected him 224th overall in the eighth round of the 2021 MLB draft.
After starting the season with the Single-A Down East Wood Ducks, Kindreich was quickly elevated to High-A Hickory in North Carolina and the left-handed starting pitcher was dominant in the Crawdads’ 10-inning combined no-hitter against the Bowling Green Hot Rods.
On that fateful night, Kindreich struck out eight and allowed only one walk in six innings during a fantastic show of chemistry with catcher Randy Florentino. Kindreich utilized a sharp fastball and changeup combination to keep hitters off balance.
“We really worked well together tonight,” Kindreich later told MiLB.com. “He was calling some really good pitches, we were in sync with our sequences. We were just trying to be aggressive, get our team back in the dugout as soon as we could so our hitters get a crack.”
That tense waiting period finally paid off in the top of the 10th inning when the Crawdads pushed four runs across. Theo McDowell pitched his second hitless inning of relief to earn the win, with Leury Tejada and Michael Brewer also pitching in with one hitless inning in immediate relief of Kindreich.
In 15 games and 11 starts this summer, Kindreich has posted a 4-2 record and 3.45 ERA. Over his 60 innings pitched, the 23-year-old southpaw has struck out 80 and walked 40.
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