D-backs' Bradley 'electric' in Cactus League debut
MAR 04, 2014 3:42p ET
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It was only three innings, it was only spring training, and it's still early March.
All that aside, Archie Bradley sure did make an impression Monday night.
The Diamondbacks top pitching prospect made his spring debut Monday against the Rockies, facing big league hitters not wearing a D-backs jersey for the first time this year. The returns were unanimously good.
"He was pretty much in control out there," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "We all know what his capabilities are, what he's accomplished so far in the minor leagues, what he's projected to accomplish up here. It's just good to see him go out and kind of be able to execute that way."
"The numbers speak for themselves," catcher Henry Blanco added Tuesday morning. "He's got pretty good stuff. It's electric stuff."
The numbers did indeed paint a picture. Over three scoreless innings, Bradley allowed one hit while notching six strikeouts and two walks. Against his first batter, Rockies outfielder Drew Stubbs, Bradley needed just three pitches -- all fastballs -- to record his first strikeout.
On his second batter, Bradley needed only four pitchers to sit 2013 NL batting champ Michael Cuddyer down on strikes. Bradley wrapped the impressive first inning by getting Carlos Gonzalez to ground out.
"That was a good start," Bradley said. "I liked the way the first inning went. I was able to build off it."
Bradley said he threw mostly fastballs, mixing in a handful of breaking balls. Given the short start, Bradley didn't get to a third pitch.
"We didn't have a chance to throw a changeup, so it was mainly those two pitches we got working last night," Blanco said. "Unbelievable stuff."
Bradley looked a little more human in the second inning as he found himself in a jam. After walking Troy Tulowitzki, Bradley allowed his only hit, a single to center. He got two outs before walking another batter to load the bases but escaped unscathed by getting pitcher Christian Friedrich to strike out looking.
Bradley's poise in the jam impressed as much as the electric fastball or sweeping breaking ball, if not more.
"If you look at what he's done in the minor leagues, he's got stuff he can get out of it with," Gibson said. "Obviously we don't want him to get into big counts like that and walk some guys, but he has the ability to pitch out of it, the stuff to pitch out of it."
Bradley was pleased he was able to remain calm and poised amid trouble. He admitted to plenty of nerves, though only up until his first pitch crossed the plate.
"I get nervous every game," Bradley said. "I think you're not human if you don't."
Bradley finished the outing with strikeouts of Stubbs and Gonzalez. As impressive as the outing was, it probably doesn't change Bradley's immediate trajectory. The D-backs are likely to open the season with a rotation of Patrick Corbin, Trevor Cahill, Wade Miley, Brandon McCarthy and Bronson Arroyo.
Arroyo's signing early in spring training essentially closed the door on Bradley's chance of making the club out of camp, but there seems to be little doubt the 21-year-old Muskogee, Okla., native will contribute in the big leagues this season.
"We don't know what 25 guys will be here for our opening series against the Giants, but we look far beyond that," Gibson said. "We've got to keep him healthy, keep him on the right track, keep him developing so if anytime this year we need him he could be an asset to us."
Bradley, just three years removed from Broken Arrow High School, is already generating as much buzz as any player in the Cactus League, and Monday night's performance might have set the bar even higher for the rest of spring training.
This time a year ago, Bradley was in minor league camp. He came over to the big league side once to watch a game from the bench and later in camp got an inning of work. Now, he's gotten a legitimate taste of pitching against major-league hitters, albeit in spring training. It's not out of the question to think that by this time next year, he could be a pillar of the D-backs rotation.
"It definitely felt good to be on this side, in big league camp," Bradley said. "Obviously, you couldn't ask for a better debut. I got the adrenaline going, I got to compete, and it felt good."