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D-backs Farm Rumblings: Braden Shipley off to a great start in Reno

Team League Week/Overall Standing
Reno Aces Pacific Coast League (Triple-A) 2-5 / 4-7 4th place in Pacific Northern Division (4.0 games back)
Jackson Generals Southern League (Double-A) 4-1 / 7-2 1st place in North Division (1.5 games up)
Visalia Rawhide California League (High-A) 4-3 / 6-5 3rd place in North Division (1.0 game back)
Kane County Cougars Midwest League (Single-A) 2-3 / 3-5 6th place in Western Division

What’s Happening

Shipley’s solid start – Right-hander Braden Shipley, who won 16 games over the last two seasons for the Aces, has started the 2018 campaign in strong fashion.

Tuesday against Sacramento, Shipley threw five solid innings, allowing just two earned runs while striking out six in a 7-2 win. Sunday, the 26-year-old was on the bump again in Fresno and pitched six shutout frames while striking out five in a 5-0 loss.

Shipley is 2-0 with a 1.56 ERA and 1.15 WHIP while striking out 14 and walking five in 17.1 innings so far. With Taijuan Walker on the disabled list and Anthony Banda no longer in the D-backs’ organization, Shipley could be getting a call to join Arizona’s rotation this week.

The journeyman makes his way to Reno – Veteran Cody Decker, who was drafted by the San Diego Padres all the way back in 2009, has worn a lot of uniforms in his career. Since 2012, he’s played for Tucson, El Paso, Albuquerque, Omaha and Las Vegas — and those were just his Triple-A stops. After starting the season in Jackson, Decker got promoted to Reno and has been an offensive sparkplug for the Aces, homering four times in his first eight games. Monday, Decker went 4-for-4 with two home runs and a double in an 11-5 loss to Fresno.

Over 939 career minor-league games, Decker has homered 192 times.

One shade of Grey – Connor Grey, a 23-year-old right-hander, has been outstanding for Visalia of the California League. Grey took the mound twice this week. First on Monday, the 2016 20th-round pick limited Lake Elsinore to just one earned run over six innings in a 7-1 win. Saturday, Grey was at it again, throwing 5.1 innings against Modesto during which he allowed one earned run in a 2-1 win. What may be more interesting is that Grey only struck out one opposing hitter over those 11.1 innings.

Varsho raking – Daulton Varsho, Arizona’s top catching prospect, has been killing the ball in the early stages of 2018. The 21-year-old hit .467 (7-for-15) on the week with two home runs and 10 RBI.

Varsho’s 11 RBI are tied for the most in the California League.

Smith feeling his way out – First baseman Pavin Smith, Arizona’s top draft choice last summer and a consensus top-five organizational prospect, hasn’t joined Varsho in having a hot start. Smith has had a hit in each of his last three games, but is hitting only .143 (5-for-35) so far.

After clubbing 28 home runs in his three-year collegiate career at Virginia, Smith has yet to go deep as a pro. He’s homer-less in 230 minor-league at-bats.

Quick Hits

• Friday wasn’t a great night for the Diamondbacks’ minor league affiliates. Reno, Jackson and Visalia all lost by one run in extra innings.

• Reno right-hander Matt Koch was outstanding in his 2018 debut. Koch pitched six shutout innings, allowing just three hits Friday, but the Aces lost 7-6 in 12 innings.

• Reno managed only one hit Sunday in a 5-0 loss at Fresno. Jack Reinheimer’s fourth-inning, one-out single was the only note on the offensive ledger for the Aces, who were shut down by the pitching combination of Kent Emanuel, Reymin Guduan and Jacob Dorris.

• Reno outfielder Socrates Brito made history this week.


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