Minor League Prospect Note: Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
With all the (justified) hype regarding pitching prospect Dylan Bundy of the Baltimore Orioles, it might be easy to overlook the other big arm who came from the Oklahoma high school ranks in the spring of 2011: Archie Bradley of the Arizona Diamondbacks. While Bundy has blown through the minors, reaching Double-A in his first professional season, Bradley has taken a more conservative course, spending all of 2012 with South Bend in the Low-A Midwest League. His season has been erratic, but he still qualifies as one of the best pitching prospects in baseball.
Bradley has made 24 starts for South Bend, going 10-5, 3.80 ERA with a 128/77 K/BB ratio in 118 innings, allowing just 72 hits. His walk rate is rather high, but his K/IP and H/IP ratios are excellent. He's given up only three homers all season, just one since June 1st, and he sports a 1.78 GO/AO ratio. Sabermetrically, I love the combination of the high strikeout rate with the high ground ball rate.
The numbers fit the scouting reports perfectly. Strongly-built at 6-4, 225, Bradley works at 92-96 MPH with his fastball. The pitch has plus movement as well as velocity, and was voted as the Best Fastball in the Midwest League in the recent Baseball America poll. Bradley also has a very impressive curveball, a pitch both overpowering and deceptive. Likewise, the curve was rated as the Best Breaking Ball in the league by BA.
Bradley's changeup is inconsistent, and his pitches have so much movement that he doesn't always know where they are going. However, he has more feel for pitching than the typical 20-year-old fireballer (he just turned 20 last week), and I think he has the aptitude to refine the changeup and sharpen his command. I had him as a Grade A- prospect pre-season, and he retains that grading for me, projecting as a rotation anchor.