As February draws ever closer, we’re almost inside of 60 days until Opening Day. Before we can pass that milestone, however, we have to reach it and profile the guy wearing the matching jersey number.
Like Brooks Hall and Jason Rogers (and Hunter Morris, but his profile comes in March), today’s profile subject was added to the 40-man roster for the first time this off-season as protection from the Rule V Draft in early December.
He’s a 6’5″ right-handed pitcher out of Marshall University who was drafted in the 21st round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. His name is…
Shackelford split time starting and relieving in his first two professional seasons which were spent with the Arizona Rookie League and Helena Brewers respectively. As he matured in his approach his numbers began to improve as he transitioned to mostly a bullpen role with Class-A Wisconsin. After a full 2012 season as a Timber Rattler, Shackelford was moved up to Class-A Advanced to start last year.
As things continued to come together, Shackelford was given the opportunity to relieve full-time. In 32.0 innings across 24 appearances he posted a 5.06 ERA with a 1.344 WHIP, 6.5 K/9 rate, and only four walks. He showed enough poise and control to be awarded with an opportunity farther up the ladder.
That promotion came in late June. Afterward, Shackelford hit the ground running in Class-AA Huntsville. In just over two months with the Stars, Shackelford tossed 29.1 innings in 20 games, 12 of which he finished. In six of those 12, he recorded the Save. With Huntsville, Shackelford posted a 0.92 ERA by only allowing three earned runs. He struck out 25 and walked seven, which contributed to his 1.023 WHIP.
Shackelford turns 25 years old shortly after Opening Day this year, for what it’s worth. After all, as we’ve learned over the years, age isn’t everything when it comes to relief pitchers. However, the younger you are when you’re ready to contribute the longer you can pitch. Shackelford has a true opportunity to be a useful piece in Milwaukee’s bullpen.
That certainly won’t happen to begin 2014. If I had to put money on it, I’d guess Shackelford repeats Huntsville to start the season and then moves up to Class-AAA Nashville after a couple of months. That’s not based on expectations or hopes, but rather this organization’s propensity for moving minor leaguers along relatively slowly.
Still, Shackelford could surprise. Both his SIERA and FIP have gotten improved each time he’s moved up the organizational ladder. Those stats were 3.00 and 2.55 respectively with Huntsville. It was certainly enough to give the Brewers front office cause to get Shackelford on the 40-man roster.
Give his 2014 season some of your attention and we’ll see where things sit come Spring Training in 2015.
You can follow Kevin Shackelford on Twitter: @Shackeldaddy