by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
With the news coming out regarding Patrick Corbin, the Diamondbacks’ rotation has taken a major hit. Lucky for Arizona, they are an organization rich in pitching prospects and the attention has quickly shifted towards top prospect Archie Bradley. Already expected to make an impact in 2014, it’s very possible that his timeline has now been accelerated. The question is if he is actually ready to thrive in the Majors or not?
Nobody is going to argue against his stuff, but thus far he has not shown the ability to avoid walking batters. Just look at his walk rates over the past two seasons:
- Single-A (2012) – 5.56 BB/9 over 136.0 IP
- High-A (2013) – 3.14 BB/9 over 28.2IP
- Double-A (2013) – 4.31 BB/9 over 123.1 IP
Those are hardly promising numbers, and it also has carried into Spring Training as he’s walked 6 batters over 8.1 IP. If he’s walking batters in Single-A and Double-A, he certainly needs to make an adjustment to avoid walking batters in the Majors.
Obviously the ability to strikeout people is going to help offset that a little bit. He owns a 9.87 K/9 in the minor leagues, but he also saw a significant drop upon being bumped to Double-A last season (8.68). That’s still a promising mark, but is it a red flag of sorts? Not really, as the stuff is there. Here’s what Rich Wilson of Prospect 361 said about his repertoire (click here for his Diamondbacks’ Top 10 prospect list):
“As he has gone through the development process, his arsenal has matured. His fastball sits 94-96 MPH and can touch higher with a plus-plus curve that sits 80-82 MPH. He also throws a change-up that is clearly his third pitch, but it also profiles as an above-average pitch.”
Baseball America has a similar take on his stuff, describing his fastball as an “overpowering, plus-plus fastball that he throws at 93-94 mph and up to 97 with good downhill plane and tailing life.” It’s clear from what the experts are saying, Bradley could easily develop into a strikeout per inning pitcher (10 K this spring).
That often overcomes most negatives, but don’t consider it a lock that Bradley hits the Majors and immediately thrives. The potential control issues are a serious concern, especially when he first arrives. It’s going to sabotage his WHIP, if nothing else, and also potentially inflate his ERA. The strikeouts are promising, but there also is going to be a learning curve. Remember, he failed to strikeout a batter per inning at Double-A and could also take another step back initially in the Majors. Is there long-term potential here? Absolutely, the stuff shows us that.
He has the ability to be a front line starting pitcher, but there’s no guarantee that he’s going to get there in 2014. Bradley could easily stumble out of the gate, walking a significant number of batters and not generating the strikeouts fantasy owners are hoping for.
Is he worth drafting? Absolutely, but make sure you have proper depth and don’t consider him a lock to produce immediately. There’s plenty of reward, but also ample risk so proceed with caution.
Sources – Baseball America, Prospect 361, Minor League Central
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