The Arizona Diamondbacks have one of the most prized prospects in Archie Bradley waiting to make his big league debut.
Bradley is currently ranked as the ninth-best prospect in Major League Baseball by Baseball Prospectus. He has pitched very well in his first few years in the minors and this season during spring training. It seems only a matter of time before the club brings him up to Phoenix.
But here is why the Diamondbacks should refrain from calling up the talented prospect for at least another season.
First off, Bradley is still just 21 years old and won’t be 22 until August. If he was a position player with the same talent, it would be a different story. Since he is a pitcher, the organization should be cautious on how quickly it calls him up.
In one case, Stephen Strasburg was called up by the Washington Nationals in 2010. He had just 55.1 innings of minor league pitching under his belt before making his MLB debut on June 8 of the same year. Twelve starts later and Strasburg would need Tommy John surgery just 68 innings into his big league career.
Another recipient of the UCL reconstruction is the Oakland A’s Jarrod Parker. After 215 innings in the minors, Parker had his first Tommy John surgery before ever making his big league debut. It forced him to miss the 2010 season, and just the other day, announced he will need a second surgery.
Obviously, Bradley is different in that he has been working longer in the minors. He has logged 290 innings since being drafted in 2011, reaching Double-A last season.
This brings up the second reason why Bradley needs another year in the minors.
Let him pitch at the Triple-A level. Bradley did pitch 123.1 innings at Double-A last season after just five starts at High-A Visalia. He would be able to continue developing as well as build up his durability. After all, he is averaging less than six innings per game through his minor league career.
Command is one thing Bradley could work on with a year in Triple-A. In his first full year at Class-A South Bend, he averaged 5.6 walks per nine innings. It did improve last season, dropping to 4.1 per nine innings, but it is still a hefty walk rate.
The third reason for keeping Bradley off the big league roster this season is the big league team itself. Besides adding a new closer in Addison Reed and another power threat in Mark Trumbo, the Diamondbacks did not do anything this offseason to separate themselves from their division.
Why risk potential injury or decreasing value when the club is a long shot at the playoffs?
Patrick Corbin is more than likely not taking the mound this season. Trevor Cahill hasn’t been nearly as effective as his All-Star-caliber year in 2010. Brandon McCarthy has hit 170 innings just once in his career, and Bronson Arroyo has a career ERA of 4.44.
Not exactly a rotation that will win a division title, especially in the NL West.
The Diamondbacks could have a new T.V. deal that would come into effect in 2016. It is somewhere in the range of $90 million and would boost the club’s budget. Arizona could potentially go after guys like Yovani Gallardo and Jon Lester.
Imagine the possibility of Bradley and a healthy Corbin in the same rotation with one of those guys.
The only reason to call up Bradley in 2014 is when the rosters expand to 40 players in September. He could get a couple of extra starts at the big league level at the end of the minor league season.
Bradley is going to end up as the ace of this staff one day. But the club still needs to give him time to finish developing into the dominant pitcher he is bound to be.
All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.
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