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The top prospect in the Diamondbacks system entering this season (and the number-11 overall, on our Top 101), Bradley was expected to start the season at Triple-A Reno. This after a 2014 season that was saturated with inconsistency, but Arizona had other plans after watching the 22-year-old in spring training. Bradley found himself on the Opening Day roster for the D'backs and is now entering his third month of big-league ball, having made eight starts for Arizona with ugly results (and now finds himself on the disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis).

2014-15 Statistics




K %

BB %

H %

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There's nothing in Bradley's stat line to suggest that he is ready for the majors, let alone prepared to perform at the level that his pedigree and stuff might suggest. When Bradley broke camp with the big club, the D'backs had a better performance in mind than the 23 strikeouts against 22 walks that he has accumulated thus far in 2015. He danced between raindrops for the first month of the season, but eventually the ERA caught up to the peripherals in mid-May when the run barrage came after his return from the disabled list—which he was placed on due to a frightening comebacker that struck him in the face. In 15 2/3 innings since coming off his first DL stint, Bradley gave up an astounding 19 earned runs with 27 hits and three homers, in addition to a K-to-walk ratio of 9-to-11 and an HBP to boot.

The walks are an obvious issue, but the prospect buzz on Bradley revolved around his electric stuff and high-strikeout upside, neither of which has stood out this season. He hasn't pitched enough innings to qualify, but only five of the 52 pitchers in the NL who do qualify have posted a strikeout rate lower than Bradley's 14.3 percent. His repertoire has basically consisted of a fastball and a curve—he has thrown just 19 changeups this season—and though his velocity has been solid at 93.1 mph on average, it's underwhelming for a young pitcher whose pitch speed is a primary asset.

The right-hander had a reputation in the minors for reaching back for elite velo when needed, but his hardest pitch of 2015 registered 95.6 mph, a number that's nothing to sneeze at, but falls short of expectations. His best fastballs add a touch of arm-side run, but the data at Brooks Baseball has not detected a sinker, and MLB hitters will have no trouble barreling up 91-95 mph when thrown with minimal movement at a 73-percent frequency, especially with wayward pitch command. To be fair, the walks from his debut were largely by design, with Bradley mostly on-target with fastballs in three-ball counts that were setup on the fringes of the strike zone, but as the season has progressed, his ability to hit targets with the heater has waned.

The curveball is sharp, with steep break that darts late in its flight path, and the pitch comes out of his hand on a fastball plane to help disguise the pitch. Bradley's breaker has all the makings of a plus offering, and though he could get away with misplaced curves in the minors due to the action on the pitch, he will find that big-league bats are not so friendly. The right-hander's ability to paint the lower shelf of the strike zone or bury the pitch will go a long way towards determining its effectiveness. The pitch is already dangerous when Bradley keeps it under opposing bats.

Bradley will need to work on his changeup in order to have a third pitch to put into batter's minds, and though the curve has mostly vertical break which theoretically minimizes platoon splits, an effective off-speed offering will be necessary against lineups that are stacked with left-handed bats. The arsenal that has been on display in the bigs thus far looks more like that of a power reliever than a workhorse starter, and the lack of an effective third pitch is another element that ought to be addressed in the minor leagues rather than be exposed at the highest level.

Mechanics Report Card













For an explanation on the grading system for pitching mechanics, please consult this pair of articles.

Despite his struggles last season, Bradley received mostly excellent grades on his mechanics report card in the 2015 Starting Pitcher Guide, the exception being 30-grade repetition that reflected the gap between what he was and what he could be. That gap still exists, despite the rapid ascension to the highest level, and not much has changed between the grades that he receives for this season and those which were based on his 2014 performance. The kid has excellent mechanical baselines, with a very well-balanced delivery that keeps his head centered over the body throughout the motion. He invokes some spine-tilt near release point with varying degrees of intensity, but he maintains above-average stability during the high-intensity phases, an impressive feat when considering the power in his delivery.

Bradley works quickly, with minimal hesitation between when he gets the baseball and when he comes set for the next pitch. He is also quick down the mound, with plus momentum that traces a direct line to the plate with a burst of kinetic energy. The downside is that Bradley can be very inconsistent with the intensity of that burst within a single plate appearance, with charging speeds that range from 55 to 65 on the 20-80 scale. The differential timing patterns effectively wreak havoc on his pitch command—when Bradley is too quick into foot strike, the upper-body sequence will be late and he will miss targets high or to the arm side; when he's slow down the mound, the upper half tends to fire early (relative to foot strike) and he'll miss down or to the glove side. Bradley's ideal timing pattern appears to be linked with 60-grade momentum, with the plus marks involving a mix of his linear efficiency and his raw speed down the mound.

Timing also plays a big role in Bradley's generation of torque, as his hip-heavy technique relies on the hips to rotate and create separation from the shoulders after foot strike, but a volatile trigger results in inconsistent torque that interferes with his radar gun readings. Coordination of these final links in the kinetic chain has been an issue for Bradley throughout his professional career, and though his debut delivery was deceivingly solid, the wheels fell off the wagon in a hurry. The Mark Trumbo trade might be an indicator of how the D'backs view their chances for the 2015 season, placing an exaggerated focus on the future over the present. The best path of development for Bradley when he returns to health appears to be a trip to the minor leagues—not just for rehab starts, but to further hone his delivery as well as his repertoire.

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