For a number one prospect in a system loaded with starting pitching talent, Archie Bradley is in a pretty tight spot.
Despite showing signs of shakey control, Bradley was considered a great candidate to earn a rotation spot before last season began.
That was before he steuggled in Cactus League play posting an era over 4 while walking six batters in just eight and a third innings.
That was just the beginning of a downhill and disapponitng season. He struggled in Triple-A before a forearm injury forced him to shut it down for two months. Once he returned he posted a 5.18 era for the rest of the season.
This was not what the Diamondbacks were hoping for out of their top prospect. Remember Bradley was once considered the top pitching prospect in all of baseball.
After struggling during the 2014 minor-league season, Bradley pitched in this years Arizona Fall League hoping to get back to the pitcher he was.
I saw Bradley first hand and he improved a ton during the fall league season. His velocity was up, and he was commanding and controlling all of his pitches a lot better. He also introduced the slider to his repertoire, and it only made him better.
He specifically looked really good in the Arizona Fall Stars Game hitting 96 mph on the radar gun with his fastball, and finding the strike-zone consistently.
Despite this, Dave Stewart doesn’t think he is ready to be apart of the Major League rotation quite yet. This is what Stewart told azcentral sports:
“Archie, in my opinion, is not ready,” said Dave Stewart, Arizona’s general manager. “He’s made a great advances and he’s made great steps, but for Archie to pitch on our major-league staff, he’s got to challenge the (Josh) Collmenters and the (Rubby) De La Rosas and those guys.”
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At this point, it’s going to be really hard for Bradley to get back in the race, unless he pitches so well that he has to be the no.5 guy.
To a certain extent, I’m fine with this. He pitched well in the Fall League, but he struggled all of last season, and his velocity is back down into the 91-93 mph range this spring.
In order for him to be effective in the major league rotation, he needs to have consistent top notch velocity, and he simply doesn’t have that.
Teams also can gain an extra year of control on a guy by keeping him in the minors till late April.
At the same time, you have to trust that your top prospect can get it done at the highest level, and at some point he is going to have to get a taste of the big leagues. That is the only way for him to gain experience.
There is so much pitching depth this year it’s going to be hard, but at the same time if the teams plan is to have at the top of the rotation by 2016 or 2017, he has to get experience this season.