On Sunday afternoon, it was reported that Archie Bradley was getting the call to the show to help the Diamondbacks patch-up a pitching staff that was decimated over the weekend. Just a few hours later, it was announced that the 23-year-old would be starting on Monday - that's today - against the Giants. Here's what Bardin had to say about Bradley in our top-ten Diamondbacks prospects list:
Archie Bradley was drafted #7 overall in 2011 and has consistently been one of the Diamondback's top prospects since then. All was generally happy and joyful... that is until Bradley reached the majors last year but forgot to bring his command with him. Actually, his command has always been rather wobbly and that's the big bugaboo with Bradley, because otherwise, his stuff is ace-worthy. If Bradley can just sharpen that command just a bit, and there were some strong indications at the end of the year in AAA Reno that he might have turned a corner in that regard, then the sky is the limit for Bradley. However, it will likely be a bumpy ride for a few years.
It is difficult to oversell just how highly-touted Bradley was heading into last season. The 6'4", 225 pound right-hander was ranked as a top-25 prospect by both Baseball America and MLB.com in four straight seasons, from 2012 through 2015. He peaked as a top-10 prospect heading into the 2014 season, with BA, MLB.com, Baseball Prospectus, Keith Law, and John Sickels all placing him between 5th and 9th. Heading into 2016, however, only BP ranked Bradley among its top-50, MLB.com, Law, and Sickels had him in the 70 to 95 range, and BA left him off altogether.
So what went wrong?
Bradley has long been regarded as possessing some of the best stuff in the minors. He has a mid-90s fastball with terrific movement, and a big breaking curveball that serves as a knockout punch. His change-up is more serviceable than anything else, but it isn't a poor pitch - and he has shown some competence with his newly learned cutter, to boot. With even average command and control, we might be discussing a future ace. Unfortunately, command and control have long evaded Bradley, as evidenced by his career 4.8 BB/9 in the minors and 22 BB in just 35.2 IP in eight starts with the DIamondbacks last year. And his issues with the strike zone have only been exacerbated by shoulder issues over the last eighteen months or so; on the bright side, however, his stuff hasn't been hindered all that much.
It also bears mentioning that Bradley was struck in the face by a line drive on April 28, 2015, and his performance suffered dramatically thereafter. His command was an issue prior to then, to be sure, but his stuff was a bit diminished, and he was significantly more hittable. Being further removed from shoulder pain and a traumatic injury such as that should be quite helpful as Bradley gets another chance in the bigs.
There are several caveats when attempting to discern Bradley's fantasy value at this point. He is still a flawed prospect that seems equally as likely to carry a fantasy team's strikeouts while damning its WHIP (or K/BB, or whatever metric you may be using), so his value may well be highest in a keeper situation, or as a streaming option in deeper leagues. However, there is also the added wrinkle that there is no guarantee that Bradley is up for good. If he performs well, I could see him hanging around, given the Diamondbacks struggles and poor rotation. That being said, his call-up has more to do with Shelby Miller's injury and Rubby de la Rosa's brief relief appearance on Saturday (he was slated to start today) than Bradley himself.
At the very least, it is a situation that bears monitoring closely, given his tremendous upside.