Tim Shibuya named Texas League Pitcher of the Week

Tulsa Drillers right-hander Tim Shibuya has been named the Texas League Pitcher of the Week for the period of July 3 – July 9. He joins fellow Drillers Jose Miguel Fernandez, Edwin Rios, Kyle Farmer, Scott Barlow and Walker Buehler who have all received Texas League Pitcher or Player of the Week honors thus far this season.

Texas League Pitcher of the Week Tim Shibuya.
(Photo courtesy of Texas Drillers)

It may be fair to say that the names of the other 2017 Drillers award recipients may be relatively well known to those who follow the Dodgers minor league affiliates. It may also be fair to say that Tim Shibuya may be less well known than his counterparts who have been in the Dodgers farm system for a much longer period of time.

Shibuya has been with a Dodger affiliate for only two seasons after signing as a minor league free agent on April 22, 2016 and again on March 16, 2017.

He was born in Los Angeles but graduated from Jackson Hole High School in Jackson, Wyoming. The interesting part of his high school athletics is that Jackson Hole High School did not even field a baseball team. The only sanctioned high school sport he played was golf. That is not to say he was not busy as he spent considerable time skiing, hunting, hiking, biking and fishing.

Beginning at age 15 and for the next two years he played American Legion baseball competing across Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Idaho and Utah.

After graduating from high school in 2007, he registered at the University of California San Diego and made the baseball team as a walk on, where he eventually became a first team All-American. During his college career as a Triton he became the school’s all-time leader in wins, strikeouts and innings pitched.

The 6’-1” / 190-pound Shibuya was next selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 23rd round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.

He has had a six-year minor league career reaching as high as AAA and part of that time with the Oklahoma City Dodgers.

With the Drillers in 2017 the 27-year-old Shibuya has a more than interesting stat line. Although missing time on the 7-day DL on more than one occasion, he has made 10 appearances in which he has posted a 1.30 ERA in 41.2 innings pitched along with a 0.82 WHIP. Five of his appearances were starts. Pitching primarily to contact he has struck out only 22 batters as a Driller in 2017 but has walked only 5 and given up but 29 hits.

With many high-profile pitchers in the Texas League, how did Tim Shibuya walk away with the Pitcher of the Week award? In short, he threw strikes, pitched to contact and put his defenders to work. In two starts during the week he pitched 15 innings giving up no runs and eight hits. He struck out seven and walked one. Both of his wins were against the Midland RockHounds and helped propel the Drillers into first place in the Southern Division of the Texas League.

As part of his week, on July 3 Shibuya came within one pitch of a no-hitter giving up a single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning and two strikes on B.J. Boyd who bounced a dribbler up the middle for a hit. He also came within five pitches of a perfect game having walked only one RockHound hitter.

As any real professional does, Shibuya gave credit to the defense behind him and to his catcher in front of him.

“Those guys have been making plays for me all night,” Shibuya told MiLB.com after the game. “There were some balls that were hit hard that went right at our guys, and it just happens that a seeing-eye single is the one that breaks it up. There were a lot of other chances that the other team had if it hadn’t been for the defense to take away. Baseball evens it out.

“We were mixing fastballs in and out, off-speed pitches here and there,” added Shibuya, who’s walked only 3.2 percent of the Double-A batters he’s seen this season. “[Catcher Jack Murphy] did a great job behind the plate. He called a great game. Defense was unbelievable, just making plays. I was just trying to let them hit the ball into the defense and let them do the work.”

The irony of the scratch hit that denied Shibuya of a no-hitter is that it was barely out of his reach. During his minor league career, he has gained a reputation for being one of the best at fielding his position.

His former manager with the Fort Myers Miracle goes a step further calling Shibuya the best fielding pitcher he has ever seen.

“He’s probably the best fielding pitcher I have ever seen,” said second-year Miracle manager and former Dodger Doug Mientkiewicz, who was including the hundreds of pitchers he has faced over his 12 major league seasons with seven teams. “He can make plays on bunts that I don’t think anybody I’ve ever played with could make.”

Congratulations to Tim Shibuya on a well-deserved honor.

 

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2 Responses to “Tim Shibuya named Texas League Pitcher of the Week”

  1. Ron Cervenka says:

    The night of Shibuya’s near no-hitter, Drillers catcher Jack Murphy posted this on Twitter:

    “Tonight was one of the greatest games I’ve ever had the pleasure of catching… congrats to Tim Shibuya on a hell of a game.”

    I will be quite surprised if Shibuya makes it to the bigs as a Dodger. However, he just upped his trade value considerably.

    As my father often said: “Good things happen to good people.”

  2. Bluenose Dodger says:

    Miracle hitting coach said this about Shibuya:

    Miracle pitching coach Gary Lucas pitched for three major league teams over eight seasons in 1980-87 and has been coaching ever since.

    “Tim Shibuya one of the best fielding pitchers I’ve ever seen, including in the majors — in all of my days. In all of my days,” Lucas said, stressing the word “all.”

    “I was fortunate enough to see Jim Kaat. I was fortunate enough to see Kenny Rogers. I’m probably leaving somebody else out, but as far as professional pitchers go, Tim Shibuya is right there with them. He just has a savvy and feel for doing the little things. Tim Shibuya is in the right place 99 percent of the time.”

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