In a year where a pair of Twins prospects – Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano – dominated much of the minor league conversation, Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Archie Bradley breezed through two levels competition, standing far above the competition on the mound.[pullquote]Bradley could easily be one of the game’s top pitchers within three years.[/pullquote]
Bradley, the seventh pick in the 2011 draft, was among the Midwest Leagues youngest players in 2012. The then-19-year-old made 27 starts (136 innings) while averaging an impressive 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings, but walked a whopping 84 batters (5.6 BB/9).
Prior to the year, I wrote: “Statistically speaking, Bradley has the potential to become a frontline starting pitcher, but he needs to improve on some horrible strike zone management. His solid 3.79 SIERA (Skill Independent ERA) was mainly due to his power arsenal simply overmatching the competition, not because he knows how to use it. Bradley has a large ceiling, but equally has ways to go.”
Reservations about his control issues led me to ranking the young hurler as the 30th prospect in the game.
Since then, though, Bradley’s control has taken a noticeable step forward, going from well below-average to simply average – a hugely positive sign considering his age (20) and level of competition this season.
Overall, Bradley made 26 starts split between high Class A and AA (21 coming in the more advanced Southern League), throwing 152 innings with 162 punch outs (9.6 K/9), 69 free passes (4.1 BB/9), and a sparkling 1.84 ERA. According to Minor League Central, he generated a groundball rate slightly north of 40% while posting an above-average 3.49 SIERA. Among minor league hurlers with at least 130+ innings of work, he ranked third in ERA, fifth in strikeouts, and 11th in strikeout rate.
Despite his youth, Bradley’s near big league ready at this point. But given Arizona’s relatively deep starting rotation next season – Brandon McCarthy, Trevor Cahill, Wade Miley, Patrick Corbin, Randall Delgado, and potentially Daniel Hudson and fellow MiLB’er Tyler Skaggs – it makes sense to keep the team’s top prospect in the minors for added seasoning.
Bradley, however, should be among the first wave of call ups for the D-Backs next season. And he could easily be one of the game’s top pitchers within three years.
Photo of Archie Bradley Courtesy of Cliff Welch/MiLB.com.