We’re only about a month in to the 2012 season but if the performance of so many first rounders is proof positive enough, it could go down as an all-time great class. The reason was due to pitching depth that was basically unheard of. But what’s funny is that considering the pedigree of this week’s selection, it’s interesting that many believe he is overlooked not just from a draft perspective, but from a TEAM perspective, as well.
Archie Bradley was the OTHER Oklahoma pitching prospect. The one everyone knows about is, of course, Orioles top prospect Dylan Bundy, who is #1 on my Top 10 Prospects list right now and who has the stuff right now to be an ace at the Major League level if he can put it all together. On top of that, even as the #7 overall pick, the second high school pitcher taken and the second pick taken by Arizona due to compensation, Bradley got lost in the shuffle from the guy Arizona picked first: Trevor Bauer.
But now, Bradley is establishing himself in a way where he might be second to neither by the time he becomes a Major Leaguer. Bundy, as impressive as he is, has been doing it in short stints, and Bauer, for all the bats he has missed, has been inefficient to the point where he has to overexert himself over only just a few innings. Bradley has found a happy medium between the two, and with it has come some moments that make him one of the best pitchers going in the minors.
At 6’4″ and 225 pounds, Bradley has the size to be a workhorse at the Major League level, and with it comes an aresnal that is well polished for a high school arm. He sits in the mid to upper 90’s with a great fastball that has life from a high 3/4 delivery. He also has a hammer curve that grades as plus and while he never used a changeup when he was in high school, there is already word that his changeup is coming along just fine.
What he’s done in 2012 at Low-A South Bend is everything that Arizona had hoped for considering that Bob Stoops wanted Bradley to be the successor to Landry Jones as quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners. He’s 4-1 with a 2.57 ERA over his first seven starts. All have gone at least five innings except for his most recent one on May 8th, when he was chased after only four. He’s only allowed 13 hits (Bundy-like) but has walked 21 (Bauer-like) over 35 innings. He has also struck out 38 (Bundy and Bauer-like) while holding hitters to a paltry .114 batting average (ditto).
Bradley was one of four fantastic minor league arms that Arizona had coming into the 2012 season, including Bauer, Tyler Skaggs and Patrick Corbin, who just got the call a couple weeks back. Skaggs and Bauer are likely to join the Major League club by the end of this year, and while Bradley might be two to three years away, there’s a good chance that the Diamondbacks will have an incredible rotation already once he gets there. Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill and Daniel Hudson are all above-average Major League starters and having the ability to pick from so many young arms is a fantastic problem to have.
And you can be sure that if Bradley continues to pitch like this, he won’t be lost in that shuffle.