When the Arizona Diamondbacks report for Spring Training there will surely be a number of players who are looking to capture the eye of manager Kirk Gibson in an attempt to earn a roster spot. Unfortunately for many of these players, there is a very good chance that Gibson and the rest of the Diamondbacks coaches may become too enamored with young pitching prospect Archie Bradley too pay attention to others.
Bradley was drafted by the Diamondbacks No. 7 overall in the 2011 MLB Draft, and since then has steadily progressed to become one of the best prospects in all of baseball. After featuring in only two minor league games in 2011, the 6-foot-6, 225-pound right hander quickly moved on to full season Low-A baseball in 2013 where he had a more than respectable season. Over 136 innings he compiled a 12-6 record, 152 strikeouts, .181 BAA and 152 strikeouts. That erased any doubt that he would move up the charts in 2013 and be a major league star before long.
In 2013 the youngster started out in High-A baseball which he completely dominated for five consecutive starts before earning a quick bump up to Double-A. From there the great results continued to pile up, and Bradley ended up compiling a 12-5 record with a 1.97 ERA, 119 strikeouts and a .214 BAA over 21 starts and 123.1 innings pitched in Southern League play. This output formed arguably the greatest individual season in all of minor league baseball and caught the eye of prospect analysts and major league scouts everywhere.
Of course statistical output and a good draft status aren’t going to automatically make Bradley an option at the major league level, but his pitching arsenal will. The crown jewel he possesses is a fastball that sits in the 94-96 mph range but can get up to 99 mph when the righty dials it up. It also has a downward tilt that induces ground balls and limits home runs. When you add to this an above average 12-6 curveball that will serve as an outpitch for the 20-year-old as he moves up the ladder and a change-up that is still developing, you have a guy who can be a No. 1 pitcher at the major league level.
Heading into spring training it is clear that Bradley will have a chance to fight for the Diamondbacks’ No. 5 rotation spot, but it appears he will have to pitch out of his mind to win it. This is largely because the team has Randall Delgado and Brandon McCarthy on board already as the team’s No. 4 and 5 starters in large part to be stopgaps and allow guys like Bradley to develop at a good pace.
Considering the dominance that Bradley displayed during the 2013 season there is no doubting that he will be a star before long at the big league level with a permanent spot in the majors due to come before the end of the 2014 season. First, though, he will have to work on command of his powerful arsenal of pitches, continue to work on the intricacies of pitching and spend a bit of time at the minor league level.