45 Prospects in 45 Days: Dbacks’ Archie Bradley
Over the next 45 days the staff here at The Fix will profile and predict the fantasy fates of prospects that could – should, in some cases – be closely monitored on the waiver wire or even in the draft room.
For the projection portion of the article, we will try our best to give you projections from all three major projection systems. Those projection systems are: ZiPS, Steamer, and Oliver. Oliver varies from the other two by projecting what a player would accomplish over 600 PA. Obviously, most prospects won’t reach 600 PA, due to various reasons. It can help to pay more attention to the rate stats that are included in order to get a clearer idea of what you’re dealing with in a particular player.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing these pieces, especially on the pitching side of things. I’m not sure I enjoyed watching video on any pitcher quite as much as I did while viewing Archie Bradley’s. By now, you’ve surely heard of Bradley.
First things first, Bradley is a mountain of a man. Standing at 6’4” and clearing 220 pounds, Bradley is what most envision when they picture frontline arms. His height, when coupled with his tremendous arm strength, allows him to get tremendous velocity and downward plane on his fastball. At times, having 95+ isn’t enough, so he backs that up with one the best curveballs in the minor leagues.
Seriously, look at it again. By all accounts Bradley is one of the top arms in the minor leagues and has the ceiling of a true number one, both in fantasy and reality.
Baseball America ranks Bradley 25th; MLB.com 24th, Baseball Prospectus and Keith Law 9th. It’s a thorough and completely reasonable vote of confidence. There aren’t many things to find wrong with Bradley’s game, but he does need a little more fine tuning according to Keith Law:
Bradley works with a 92-98 mph fastball and a power curveball in the low 80s with depth and right rotation. He needs more work on his changeup, and needs to use his large frame to stay on top of the fastball so it doesn’t sit up in the zone. His arm works and he’s extremely competitive on the mound, so the Diamondbacks were right to move him out of the hitter-friendly Cal League as quickly as possible.
He’ll be ready to help the major league team by the second half of this year and projects as their future No. 1 starter.
Jason Parks also mentioned a few things Bradley could improve upon for joining the big club in Arizona in his most recent write-up:
Bradley is a true frontline power arm, with size, strength, and a highly intense arsenal that already features two well above-average offerings. The delivery can lack consistency and he struggles to finish his pitches, which can leave the ball up and arm side and cause his power curve to play too high in the zone. If the command continues to refine, a number one starter is a possible outcome; a true top-of-the-rotation starter capable of a heavy innings workload and gaudy strikeout totals. Even without sharp command, Bradley will find success in a major-league rotation, especially if the changeup lives up to its projection. Bradley is going to be one of the best young arms in baseball very soon.
So, to recap: Bradley’s change-up needs refinement and he needs to become more consistent with his mechanics. Fair enough. Everything else is going well; and considering his rapid ascension – dominating Double-A at 20 – those areas, in theory, could improve quickly.
Minor League Production
Bradley performed pretty well at Single-A, despite having command issues. In 2013, however, his command took a step forward – although it regressed a little in Double-A – which allowed him to post fantastic ERAs and FIPs.
Bradley’s strikeout stuff is undeniable. His command, on the other hand, is still a questionable commodity. The improvement from 2012 to 2013 is a good sign going forward, but he’ll need to refine it further in order to be the pitcher scouting reports suggest he could be at the next level.
First things first, I’m taking the over on the amount of strikeouts – especially more than the ZiPS number. I expect Bradley’s gaudy totals to dip a little when he jumps to the major league level, but once he settles in I’m expecting more strikeout upside.
On the negative side, it appears that the projection systems fear his command will take a step back once opposing batters aren’t quite so overpowered.
Bradley appeared to be on the outside looking in, in regards to a rotation spot early in the upcoming season. However, with the recent injury news to staff ace Patrick Corbin, a door might have opened itself. Corbin’s injury may enable Mr. Bradley to find himself on the Dbacks’ Opening Day roster.
Bradley does have his warts, namely command. If Bradley is able to refine his fastball command a little more he could be in for an extremely impactful rookie season. Injuries are terrible, and Bradley likely can’t replace Patrick Corbin immediately, if he is lost for the season. But, given Arizona’s ability to contend for a wild card spot immediately, it wouldn’t shock me to see if the franchise at least considers allowing Bradley to see if he can fill Corbin’s pretty large shoes by placing him in the rotation to start the season. But, don’t be discouraged if he doesn’t begin the season in Arizona, it won’t be long before his presence is needed.
Out of all of the rookies we’ve profiled, Bradley likely has highest impact in 2014, except for maybe Kevin Gausman. Feel free to draft and stash.