A pair of Arizona Diamondbacks right handed-pitchers appear on the recently released MLB.com Top 100 prospects list for 2016.
Braden Shipley was rated No. 67 while highly touted prospect Archie Bradley was rated No. 72.
Shipley jumped 11 spots from a year ago when MLB.com rated him No. 78, but it’s still 25 spots away from his No. 42 ranking in 2014. Shipley was drafted No. 15 in the first round in the 2013 Amateur Draft. MLB.com said was making a fairly quick ascent up the Diamondbacks ladder before his progress was slowed a bit in Double-A.
Shipley struggled a bit mechanically in 2015, but was able to right the ship and show once again the consistent ability to command three above-average to plus pitches. His fastball sits in the low-90s and can touch 95-96 mph. His very effective changeup is thrown with the same arm speed and with excellent deception. His power curve gives him a potential swing-and-miss pitch. When his mechanics are sound, he is very tough for hitters to pick up. The former infielder is very athletic and fields his position exceptionally well.
Shipley’s struggles in the first half of 2015 could very well make him a more complete pitcher. If his second half was any indication, D-backs fans should be able find out just how good in the near future.
Scouting grades gave Shipley an overall rating of 55 with a fastball rated at 65 while his curveball, changeup and control were all at 55.
Last year Shipley appeared in 28 games for Double-A Mobile while starting 27 games. He was 9-11 with a 3.50 ERA while striking out 118 hitters and walking 56.
Meanwhile, Bradley continues to slide down on the list. He fell 33 spots from last year’s ranking of No. 39. Bradley, who was drafted with the seventh pick in 2011, had his highest placement on the annual rankings was in 2013 when he placed No. 7.
MLB.com’s scouting grades gave Bradley a 55 overall while rating his fastball at 65, curveball at 60 and his slider and changeup at 50 and control at 45.
According to MLB.com, Bradley seemed to be ready to put his struggles of 2014 behind him that included elbow issues and poor performances. He beat reigning Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw in his MLB debut but then took a line drive off his head a few starts later and then dealt with a shoulder problem that derailed him yet again.
The good news for the 2011 first-rounder is he finished off the season with two solid starts in Triple-A and threw well in instructional league play. He’ll also be just 23 for most of the 2016 season and his pure stuff keeps bouncing back. He’s still capable of hitting the mid-90s consistently with his fastball and using his 6-foot-4 frame to throw downhill. His power curveball can miss bats while his changeup and the slider/cutter type pitch he added in the Arizona Fall League in 2014 give him two more potential Major League average offerings.
Command continues to be the biggest issue for Bradley, whose walk rate has kept him from working deep into starts. Some foresee a move to the bullpen as a result, but it’s too early to give up on him as a starter.
Bradley was 1-0 for Triple-A Reno last year while appearing in four games before being promoted to the the Diamondbacks, where he was 2-3 with a 5.80 ERA and 23 strikeouts and 22 walks.
Both pitchers are expected to be playing for the D-backs this season.
The Diamondbacks’ No. 1 pick from last year’s draft, Dansby Swanson was ranked No. 8 on the list. Swanson was traded to the Braves in exchange for pitcher Shelby Miller and is expected to reach the majors in 2017, where MLB.com said he will probably be the Braves’ starting shortstop and a possible perennial All-Star.
Swanson’s pro career with the D-backs didn’t start so well, as he was hit in the face by a pitch in a simulated game. It ended with a Northwest League championship. He has grown used to winning and shouldn’t take too long to get to Atlanta to try and do it there. Thanks to his quickness, hands and arm strength, Swanson should stay at shortstop long term. He’s a very good hitter with an advanced approach at the plate. Swanson should be an average and on-base machine with the ability to steal bases. He showed more power at Vanderbilt in 2015, and he could have Major League average pop when all is said and done.
Advanced college hitters taken at or near the top of the Draft historically have moved quickly. The Braves hope that is the case and that Swanson can continue the winning ways he experienced at Vandy and even during his pro debut.