Opening the 2013 season at High-A Visalia, Archie Bradley made quick work of the California League with a 1.26 ERA and 43-10 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 28.2 innings over five starts.
As a result of his domination in the hitter-friendly league, the then-20-year-old received an early season promotion to Double-A Mobile, where he continued to thrive against older, more experienced hitters. Making 21 starts at the more advanced level, Bradley registered a 1.97 ERA, .214 opponents’ batting average and a 119-59 K/BB ratio in 123.1 innings.
An excellent athlete with a durable and projectable 6’4”, 225-pound frame, the right-hander arguably boasts the deadliest two-pitch combination among minor league pitchers, with a heavy fastball in the mid- to upper 90s and power curveball with a 12-to-6 shape and sharp downer bite.
The right-hander’s feel for a changeup lags behind that of his two other offerings, but it flashes above-average potential and should serve as a third weapon in time.
Bradley had pitched like baseball’s top prospect this spring until his latest start on Thursday against the Mariners, when the 21-year-old allowed four earned runs on five hits and two walks in two innings. While he’s clearly one of the Diamondback’s five best starters headed into the season, Bradley will probably begin the year in the minor leagues, likely Triple-A, so as to prepare for an inevitable call-up.
The organization's recent history of promoting top pitching prospects ahead of schedule suggests that Bradley will spend most of the 2014 season in the major leagues, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he emerges as the National League’s top rookie hurler by season's end.