The Arizona Diamondbacks promoted right-hander Archie Bradley to the major leagues yesterday and he will start tonight's game against the San Francisco Giants. Although he opened 2015 in the Diamondbacks rotation he is still a rookie entering 2016.
Bradley has been inhabiting prospect lists for several years now. What can we anticipate?
Basic information from the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:
Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-4 WT: 225 DOB: August 10, 1992
2012: Grade A-; 2013: Grade A-; 2014: Grade A; 2015: Grade B+
Archie Bradley opened 2015 in the Arizona rotation but it didn’t last long: he was hit in the face with a line drive in his fourth start. After recovering from that he came down with a sore shoulder. He returned to Triple-A in late August and pitched credibly but was not given a September promotion. When he’s right Bradley still has a 94-96 MPH fastball and a plus curveball, but his velocity was erratic last year (probably due to the shoulder issue) as was his control. His change-up remains mediocre and the cutter that looked promising in 2014 hasn’t developed much. This is the second year in a row that Bradley has lost time to arm troubles, being bothered by a sore elbow for much of 2014. He still has the physical upside to be a number two starter but he’s got to get his command in gear and needs to finish developing the third pitch. It is hard to do those things when you’re hurt. Grade B.
Bradley threw 10 innings for the Diamondbacks in spring training, giving up 15 hits and 10 runs with a 9/5 K/BB. He opened 2016 with Triple-A Reno and pitched well in his first start on April 7th, throwing six shutout innings with seven strikeouts. In this clip from Milb.com he crosses up Padres prospect Hunter Renfroe with some high/inside heat.
However, his second outing on April 12th was much different. Bradley lasted just two-thirds of an inning and 40 pitches; he walked a pair and gave up three hits and three runs and was pulled without getting out of the first inning.
His two games for Reno this year are Archie Bradley in shorthand notation. When he's right, he overpowers hitters with his fastball up to 95-96 and a nasty power curve. When he's wrong, he loses command of the strike zone, falls behind, and gets hit harder than he should for a guy with his sort of stuff. That's been his pattern for more than two years now. The good news is that he looks healthy. He needs innings more than anything to iron his issues out and staying on the mound is the first step.
So that's what to expect from Archie Bradley: he could be really good, he could be really bad, he could be anything in between. It isn't much of an answer, but it is the honest one.
One way or the other, it is usually apparent within an inning or two if Bradley has things in gear or not on any given day.