Armed with two potential knockout offerings—including a curveball that earned him an honorable mention on our list of best prospect pitches—Diamondbacks prospect Archie Bradley is one of the minors’ most electrifying pitchers. The 20-year-old righty was ranked the no. 2 prospect in the Arizona system and no. 31 in baseball by Baseball Prospectus over the winter, and he’s a strong candidate to make a Jose Fernandez-like jump to the majors in 2014.
Certainly no stranger to the prospect scene, Bradley was a two-sport prep star who held a dual scholarship to both pitch and play quarterback at the University of Oklahoma. But the Diamondbacks selected him with the seventh overall pick in 2011, signed him for a reported $5 million bonus, and quickly made football a thing of his past.
Bradley offered glimpses of his front-line stuff and potential with Single-A South Bend in 2012, though it was often mixed with spotty command. While he surrendered just 87 hits and struck out 152 batters in 136 innings, he issued a Midwest League-high 84 walks. The prospect has a different type of challenge ahead of him this season, as he heads to the hitter-friendly High-A California League. The circuit’s ballparks and overall environments are often unforgiving to pitchers, but one thing is for sure––Bradley has the pure stuff to miss bats at any level. He got off to a strong start in his April 5 debut for Visalia, fanning nine batters in 5.2 scoreless innings.
The video embedded below features an interview with Bradley alongside game footage from a High-A spring training outing against Milwaukee on March 29. The Oklahoma native worked three innings, flashing consistent 93-95 mph velocity and topping out at 96 a handful of times. Although Bradley’s four-seam fastball lacks plus life, his mixture of velocity and steep downward plane from a 6-foot-4 frame (visible in the video) lends weight to his fastball and makes it difficult for a hitter to lift. He threw a number of sharp power curveballs in the three frames but didn’t really get a chance to showcase his changeup against the righty heavy Brewers High-A lineup.
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