This time one year ago, Archie Bradley was arguably the top pitching prospect in baseball as well as a contender to earn a spot in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ opening day rotation.
He did not, though, and instead turned in a season that was was limited by injury as well as his own wildness. Bradley started 18 games in stops at Rookie ball, Double-A and Triple-A, posting a 3-7 record with a 4.45 ERA. He struck out 75 and walked 49 in 83 innings, while also hitting nine batters.
Now 22, a little of the shine may have worn off of the right-hander, though MLB.com still ranks him as the 16th-best prospect in baseball, and in 4.1 innings of work this spring training he has allowed just two hits and one run while walking two, hitting one and striking out five.
D-backs general manager Dave Stewart, speaking with Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Monday, said Bradley is still in contention for a rotation spot.
“He’s young, I mean he’s 22 years old and most pitchers don’t get here to stay until they’re 25, 26 years old,” he said. “This kid is young; there’s been a lot of expectations that have been placed on him, and probably some undue pressure, which can happen when you don’t have the starting pitching depth that you need.”
While the Diamondbacks may not be stocked with proven starting pitchers, at least healthy ones, there is no doubting the amount of depth they would appear to have at the position. With Josh Collmenter and Jeremy Hellickson likely taking up two rotation spots, the final three would be filled from a group that includes Trevor Cahill, Daniel Hudson, Rubby De La Rosa, Robbie Ray, Allen Webster, Vidal Nuno and Bradley, among others.
So in other words, the D-backs see no reason to rush Bradley into a role they may not yet need him to fill.
“We’re waiting on him,” Stewart said. “We’d much rather he develop. This kid pitched half a season in Double-A last year, so we’re waiting for him to come. When he comes, and once he gets here, then we’re expecting him to be here for a long time.”