AUSTIN SHIELDS, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: November 23, 1997
Drafted: 33rd Round, 1005th Overall, 2016
How Acquired: Draft
High School: St Mary Catholic Secondary
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|Shields is a big high school pitcher from Canada who was ranked 189th overall in this draft class by Baseball America. According to Nathan Rode, he got in better shape this season and he is now listed at 6’6″, 220 pounds, which differs from his draft listing. He was touching 94 MPH with his fastball and has a low- to mid-80s slider, which flashes plus potential. He had a commitment to British Columbia, a major college in Canada. Shields has issues with his delivery, which have led to inconsistent command. Baseball America called him a long-term project. The Pirates signed Shields on the final day for all of their remaining draft pool money. He appears to have been a backup to competitive round selection Nick Lodolo, who didn’t sign.
Shields got into four GCL games after signing. He had control problems in three of them, but the only really bad outing was his first, when he walked three while retiring only one hitter. In six and a third innings total, he gave up just three hits but walked ten.
Shields was making progress in extended spring training, but after being shut down for a while with some arm tightness he had trouble throwing strikes. The usual pattern would have been for him to go to Bristol, but the Pirates sent him back to the GCL and he had a very uneven season. There were days when he was effective and opponents batted only .163 against him. But at times he couldn’t find the strike zone and he still walked far more than he struck out.
Shields pitched in relief for Bristol and had a very rough time. Opponents lit him up for a line of 349/481/519, as really nothing went well.
The Pirates expected Shields to be a project, but it’s not going well. If he’s back in 2019, he’s unlikely to move up past Bristol to begin.
|2019: Minor league contract
|Signing Bonus: $205,000
MiLB Debut: 2016
MiLB FA Eligible: 2022
MLB FA Eligible:
Rule 5 Eligible: 2019
Added to 40-Man:
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
|June 11, 2016: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 33rd round, 1005th overall pick; signed on July 15.|