Archie Bradley: The Number 1 Prospect in Baseball?

  • Colby Richards
Bradley eyes a 2014 burst onto the major league scene (Credit: MiLB.com/Ken Weisenberger)

Bradley eyes a 2014 burst onto the major league scene
(Credit: MiLB.com/Ken Weisenberger)

Arizona Diamondbacks pitching prospect Archie Bradley posted a great year in AA in 2013 with 1.97 ERA with a fairly high WHIP of 1.23, even for 123 IP. Also a K/BB ratio of 2.02, the rate of success could be chalked up to luck! It seems that walks are the biggest area in need for improvement. Never fear Dave Duncan is here!  This 2014 Spring Training can work wonders for the entire Diamondbacks organization.  Bradley, the #7 overall pick in the 2011 draft, should be poised to make the leap to the majors and could be the next Matt Harvey or Gerrit Cole.  But is he the best prospect in baseball? Let’s look at the numbers.

  Requirements for being the number 1 prospect in baseball:

  1. Be the number 1 prospect on your team
  2. Show the potential to be a Cy Young/MVP Candidate
  3. For a pitcher, longevity and HR per 9 separate the best from the rest, after a pitcher places in the top 5 in WHIP, ERA, K/BB and 180 IP.
  4. For a hitter, whatever the player contributes at a position in the middle of the field is a bonus to how well he hits. A hitter needs to be on a playoff team and be able to produce power and speed in bunches, as we have seen with many new faces in the MVP voting.

As a pitcher there are two things you can’t defend: a walk and a pitch that leaves the yard. Hence why these items are on the Beane Count.  Only fitting that Oakland leads the stat that they brought to life!

While BB/9 is something every pitcher works on and is able to make big jumps in improvement, HR/9 is very difficult to make vast improvements on, so it can be taken into account in early stages of a player’s career. Archie Bradley has shown a 0.37 career HR/9 in 291 minor league IP (excluding the 2 IP in RK ball). The top 3 in the MLB in HR/9 in 2013 were Harvey (0.35), Kershaw (0.420), and Anibal Sanchez (0.445).  Each of them was in the top 5 in Cy Young Voting. The WHIP and ERA separate the leagues into tiers but the HR/9 separates the top 10. Bradley has been exemplary in many categories K/9, HR/9, ERA and LOB%.

His AA season he sported an 81 LOB%, which would explain his 1.97 ERA. His drop of .09 on HR/9 from A ball to AA helped his ERA drop by about 2 runs. Hank Aaron Stadium is about how it sounds after being named for the HR King. The dimensions 325 ft to LF, 400 ft to CF, 310 ft to RF.  Very hitter-friendly except the Left-Center Gap seems to never end at 396 ft. I’m not sure how many strict platoons are used in AA, but Bradley will still face his share of LHB, so that RF porch is something he needs to pitch around.

Check out this video from MLB.com highlighting his stuff:

All in all, Bradley shows great movement on his fastball in the low to mid 90s even touching 97, a hammer curveball and good fade on his change up that needs to slow up to be more effective. Bradley has many things going for him at this point.

Bradley is definitely a prospect to keep an eye on in 2014. It remains to be seen whether he can make the leap to the majors and be as dominant, but the numbers above suggest that it’s plausible!

– Colby Richards

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