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When a 21-year-old, considered to be one the best pitching prospects in baseball, surpasses the 130-inning mark, it's probably time to be cautious and plan on shutting him down in the near future. But when that prospect is Archie Bradley (pictured), a 6'4", 225-pound workhorse out of Oklahoma, it's not out of the question to see him pitching late into the major league season.
Bradley might not make any starts for the D'backs until 2014, but that doesn't mean he can't help the team as it fights for a playoff spot this season. With two plus offerings—a mid-90s fastball and knuckle-curve—the right-hander could be a force coming out of the bullpen, which has been a sore spot for the D'backs all season long.
In 22 starts (five in High-A, 17 in Double-A) on the season, Bradley has a 1.91 ERA with 54 walks and 143 strikeouts in 131.2 innings pitched. After struggling with his command in Low-A ball in 2012 (84 BB in 136 IP), it's safe to say he's figured things out and is just about ready to pitch at the highest level.
In addition to Bradley, Triple-A shortstop Chris Owings could also get a shot to replace the struggling Didi Gregorius, who has a .483 OPS over his past 29 games after a hot start. The 22-year-old Owings, who is hitting .330 with 12 homers and 16 stolen bases, is considered to be one of the top infield prospects in the game with strong skills at the plate, as well as on defense.
The biggest concern with Owings is a lack of plate discipline (20 BB, 94 K), although he could succeed in a short one-month stint before teams are able to get a good read on how to attack his weaknesses.
Fellow prospect Matt Davidson, who was called up on Sunday to replace the injured Eric Chavez, could also get a long look at third base if Martin Prado plays more outfield with Cody Ross (dislocated hip) likely out for the season.
Another Double-A pitcher to keep an eye on is lefty starter David Holmberg, who has a 2.76 ERA in 23 starts. A 22-year-old back-of-the-rotation prospect, Holmberg could be in line for a start or two if the rotation thins out anymore.
Teammate Jake Barrett, a third-round pick in the 2012 draft, has a 1.43 ERA and 24 saves between High-A and Double-A. He could get a look in the pen, especially now that David Hernandez has been sent to the minors.