Archie Bradley knows he’s viewed as one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, and he’s totally cool with it.
“It’s never a bad thing,” he told the Dan Bickley Show with Vince Marotta Wednesday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM at Salt River Fields. “I’d like for it to be maybe ‘rookie pitcher’ or ‘major league pitcher’ instead of prospect, but I’ll get there.”
It’s really a question of ‘when’ for Bradley, not ‘if.’
Selected by the D-backs with the seventh pick in the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft out of Broken Arrow High School in Oklahoma, the right-hander rose through the farm system and finished the 2013 campaign in Double-A Mobile. He posted a 12-5 record to go along with a sterling 1.97 ERA in 21 starts, and struck out 119 batters in 123.1 innings of work.
Still just 21 years old, though, the team may decide it’s best to let him start the 2014 campaign back in the minor leagues. And while that would disappoint the pitcher, he understands that whatever happens now during spring training will be beneficial toward his ultimate goal.
“They’re going to show me where I’m really at and what I need to work on, things like that,” he said of the major league hitters he’s going to face. “Then I can take it, whether it’s here to start the season, or Reno or Mobile, I can, ‘Hey, that’s what I need to work on, that’s what I need to do.’ Get things ironed out and be ready to go.”
But one place Bradley seems to have things figured out is off the mound. Unlike previous highly-touted pitching prospects who have come through the organization, Bradley has earned a reputation for being respectful toward his teammates in the clubhouse and is not someone who rubs people the wrong way.
“As bad as I want to compete and talk to the guys and stuff, I understand where I’m at,” he said. “I respect the veterans in the clubhouse, and the last thing I want to do is be the guy that someone has to pull aside and talk to.”
Bradley added that he knows his place, and it’s on the mound.
“If I handle my business there then I’ll be alright.”
That’s the plan, although his chances of making the Opening Day rotation out of spring training took a substantial hit with the team’s addition of veteran Bronson Arroyo.
However, Bradley said that did not upset him at all because he’s been able to learn from the 37-year-old.
“What he’s done…just asking him how he’s stayed healthy, what his routine is in the offseason, bullpen routine,” Bradley said. “Just all that I haven’t experienced yet.
“I have my own routine in the minor leagues, but this guy’s thrown 200 innings like 10 years in a row, so if I can pick up something from him and that can maybe help me replicate that, then I think I’m helping myself out.”
Bradley’s first spring start will come Saturday evening against the Chicago Cubs, and while he’s not a favorite to be part of the Opening Day rotation, as of now he still has a chance.
Saying his expectation is to do exactly that, Bradley understands it may not happen and will not be crushed if he has to continue to refine his game in the minor leagues.
“That’s just realistically where I’d like to see myself, and my goals are [to be] with this team day one,” he said. “Now if that doesn’t happen, then I’m fine with that. I’ll go to Reno or go to Mobile and get ready or fix whatever they want me to work on and be ready for when they say ‘let’s go.'”