Since he was drafted in June of 2011 with the seventh overall pick, fans of the Arizona Diamondbacks have been patiently awaiting the big league arrival of right-handed pitcher Archie Bradley.
According to manager Chip Hale, Bradley is one of two candidates to lock up the final spot in the D-backs’ bullpen as the team wraps up spring training this week.
Bradley, who was once rated the top pitching prospect in baseball, is still highly regarded, but according to one prominent expert, he’s no longer the top prospect in the D-backs’ system.
ESPN’s Keith Law has rated Bradley as the 22nd-best prospect in baseball, two spots behind D-backs farmhand, and fellow right-hander, Braden Shipley.
Bradley suffered a flexor tendon injury last year that took velocity off his fastball and bite off his curveball. Both pitches looked better this spring, although not quite as good as they had prior to 2014. His floor is still pretty high, given his size and overall health record, but he’ll need to work on his changeup and using his stuff more to set up hitters rather than just blowing them away as he had in the past.
Bradley has seen extensive work in Cactus League play, pitching 16.1 innings in five appearances (three starts). He’s posted a 2-2 record with a 2.20 ERA while striking out 12 and walking only three opposing hitters.
Shipley heads up the D-backs’ impressive troika of top pitching prospects, possessing a three-pitch mix and solid command and control thanks to a delivery that’s easy to repeat. He has the least experience of the trio above A-ball, so I wouldn’t expect him to get the call first, but all three guys probably will make their major league debuts this season.
Shipley, 23, pitched in two games for the D-backs in Cactus League play, allowing five hits and one earned run in four innings of work. He was reassigned to Arizona’s minor league camp in mid-March. The former University of Nevada star could start the season at Triple-A Reno, the same city where he played his college ball.
A third right-hander, Aaron Blair, came in at no. 36 in Law’s rankings