All stats listed as of 8:00 p.m. central time Thursday.
Archie Bradley made his first Major League start Saturday against the Dodgers, and it was nothing short of a success. The 22-year-old pitched six scoreless innings with six strikeouts and four walks while allowing only one hit. Overall it was a very good debut for a rookie, especially against a very good team. He even made his pitching counterpart Clayton Kershaw look like Joe Schmo – and that’s not easy.
Bradley needed 112 pitches to get through six innings, and he only threw 58.9 percent of his pitches for strikes. As evidenced by the four walks, he was fairly erratic throughout the game, and even on several strikeouts he missed his desired location by a good amount. It also appeared that when Bradley missed he missed up in the zone and/or over the plate. Bradley only topped out at 95, according to Brooks Baseball, and outside of two changeups, he threw strictly fastballs and curveballs. He did register good whiff rates with those pitches, and he held batters hitless on five plate appearances that ended in curveballs.
I bring up the velocity, because late last season, as a part of his prospect evaluations for Fangraphs, Kiley McDaniel mentioned Bradley lost about three mph off his fastball due to injury, going from 95-98 consistently to 92-95. The injury also affected his command, which was projected as “fringy at best,” and that’s clear at least through his first start this year. Bradley reminds me of Tony Cingrani two years ago as rookies who relied primarily on two pitches. Cingrani had some success throughout his rookie season, and I think Bradley could have a fairly similar first part of his rookie season. But as teams start seeing him more I think they’ll figure him out, and it’ll be up to him to make the right corrections.
Leading rookies in hits is 26-year-old Oakland left-fielder Mark Canha with 12. Canha was picked up by the A’s in this winter’s Rule 5 draft after belonging to the Marlins since 2010. In four seasons in the minors he had two 20-plus home run seasons, and his lowest wRC+ was 128. He had good plate discipline, hit for a decent average and got on base a lot. So far in his rookie season he’s hitting .324/.342/.486 with three doubles and a home run. He’s hitting second in the A’s lineup. While he has gotten off to a strong start I don’t see much potential here. If he was anything more than a Quad A player, I think he would’ve seen some action in Miami in previous seasons and/or been protected by the Marlins over the winter in the draft. His double-digit minor-league walk rate has shrunk all the way to 2.6 (seven strikeouts and only one walk) in 2015. The only thing I see him contributing in is some decent power. I’m talking low-to-mid teens home runs. Outside of AL-Only leagues I wouldn’t concern myself with him.
One player not off to a hot start in the slash stats is Dalton Pompey. The Toronto outfielder is hitting .167/.231/.389, but he does have two doubles and two home runs to go with a stolen base. So how’s he hitting .167? A .154 average on balls in play. He had a career .342 minor league BABIP to go along with a 12 percent walk rate. He’s sporting a healthy eight percent walk rate in the Majors, and he’s not striking out a ton so I’m betting on his average to go up soon. He’s laying down sweet bunts and hitting monster bombs. In the past week he’s batted second five out of seven games, right in front of some powerful hitters. With his combination of speed, hitting ability, power and plate discipline I believe this rookie is a keeper.
Steven Souza has been absolutely crushing the ball lately, hitting two homers in Tampa Bay’s series with Toronto while missing out on a third by about a foot. Souza’s hitting .258/.378/.484 with two home runs and three steals. He’s striking out more than 30 percent of the time, but he’s also walking in 16 percent of plate appearances. Both his home runs hit the second deck in Toronto – they were absolute bombs. He’s also hitting second in the Rays lineup, which obviously isn’t as potent as Toronto’sn but it’s a good spot to be in. I think the strikeouts stay high but so will the walks. He’s old for a rookie (26), but he’s stolen 20-plus bases four times in the minors, and he’s hit at least 15 home runs in each of the past three years despite no more than 407 plate appearances at any stop. This guy is legit and should be rostered in pretty much any league.
Fangraphs and Brooks Baseball made this article possible.