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All American Game : : Story
Bradley, baseball a perfect fit
Monday, April 30, 2012
RAPIDS, Iowa – It was only 13 months ago when Archie Bradley, the
Oklahoma high school golden boy with the golden right arm capable of
throwing fastballs 95 mph and tight spirals 60 to 70 yards downfield,
spoke to Perfect Game with a hint of exasperation in his voice.
just a constant mind-battle for me every day. I change my mind every
day on what I think I’m going to do,” Bradley said in late March,
2011. “In the end, what it comes down to is what’s really best
for me. Me and my family have started to put a plan together of pros
and cons, and possible scenarios of things that can happen and which
route we will choose.
trying to collect the most information we can from anyone that can
give us some little bit of advice that we think is worth something,
and put it all into one and hopefully make the best decision.”
then a senior at Broken Arrow (Okla.) High School, was ranked the
nation’s No. 4 overall baseball prospect – and No. 2 right-handed
pitcher behind fellow Oklahoman and good friend Dylan Bundy – and
was certain to be a high first round selection in the 2011 MLB
First-Year Player Draft. He was also a 6-foot-4, 210-pound top
quarterback prospect that had signed a national letter-of-intent with
Coach Bob Stoops and the Oklahoma Sooners. Head coach Sunny Golloway
was also poised to welcome him into the Sooners’ baseball program.
expected, Bradley was snapped up with the No. 7 overall pick in the
2011 draft, by the Arizona Diamondbacks. He ultimately chose the
D-backs over the Sooners, agreeing to a reported $5 million deal just
minutes in front of an Aug. 15 signing deadline.
Bradley – now a 6-4, 225-pound 19-year-old – is on the roster of
the South Bend Silver Hawks, Arizona’s Class A affiliate in the
Midwest League (MWL). He certainly seemed to be happy with his
station in life as he spoke from Perfect Game Field at Veterans
Memorial Stadium on April 26, a day before he was scheduled to make
his fifth start of the season in a MWL game against the Cedar Rapids
Kernels, the Class A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels.
feel like I’m in a real good place right now,” Bradley said with
a contented smile on his face. “The biggest thing I’ve done so
far is to not worry about moving up; I’m not worried about how fast
(the D-Backs) move me. I’m here to learn things and to get better
each outing and develop my change and throw it with command and
consistency. The team is going to move me when they feel I’m ready
to go so I’m just having fun playing baseball.”
is ranked by PG as the No. 2 minor league prospect in the D-backs
organization, behind only right-hander Trevor Bauer, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2011 draft. After five Midwest League starts,
Bradley stood 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA and 30 strikeouts and 14 walks in
26 innings. He retired the first 15 batters he faced in his Friday
start against Cedar Rapids but got the hook after walking the first
three batters he faced in the sixth.
feel like I’ve done a pretty good job of getting the pro routine
down – throwing every fifth day, learning how my body reacts to
that and just the different things you need to do, the way you eat,
the way you sleep – just the way you prepare for each start,” he
said on Thursday.
Hawks pitching coach Wellington Cepeda, who pitched for five seasons
in the D-backs organization, has been impressed with Bradley in the
short time he has been working with him.
far I’m seeing great things. I think this kid is going in the right
direction,” Cepeda told Perfect Game. “Stuff-wise, he’s got
three big league pitches right now. His fastball is big-time above
average and he has that power curveball with command, which you don’t
see (often) with a 19-year-old kid; he’s able to throw it with any
count. His changeup is a work in progress right now but I think in
the future it’s going to be a great pitch for him.”
started his high school career at Muskogee (Okla.) High School but
transferred to Broken Arrow before his junior year. He led Broken
Arrow to the Class 6A State Championship his senior season when he
finished 12-1 and allowed only three earned runs and struck out 133
(with 11 walks) in 71 1/3 innings. He also passed for more than 3,600
yards and 45 touchdowns in two seasons as the Tigers’ starting
played in three PG WWBA tournaments while in high school, including
the 2008 PG WWBA World Championship as a member of the Royals
Baseball Club. But his crowning achievement was being selected to
play in the 2010 Aflac All-American Game at PETCO Park in San Diego.
It was at the All-American Game where Bradley’s fastball was first
gunned at 95 mph.
look back on the Aflac Game as one of the best things I’ve been a
part of as far as baseball goes. Half of those guys I still keep in
contact with,” he said. “Everything Perfect Game has done for me
has benefitted me – (PG has) been a class act, it’s been well-run
and I’d recommend it to anyone.”
two rosters at 2010 PG/Aflac All-American Game were overflowing with
top-ranked prospects. There were six future first round draft
selections on each of the East and West teams’ rosters, including
Bradley. His West Team teammates included his old buddy Bundy
(Orioles, 4th overall), Joe Ross (Padres, 25th),
Blake Swihart (Red Sox, 26th), Robert Stephenson (Giants,
27th), Henry Owens (Red Sox, 36th comp) and Travis Harrison (Twins, 50th comp). Six other future first-rounders dotted the East Team roster.
said that he and All-American Shawon Dunston Jr. (Cubs, 11th round) are planning on living and working out together in Arizona
during the upcoming offseason. He also mentioned ’10 All-Americans
Matthew Dean (Blue Jays, 13th round), Dillon Maples (Cubs,
14th round) and Austin Hedges (Padres, 2nd round) as just a few of the guys with whom he remains in touch.
could name all of them,” he said. “We still talk, we still keep
in touch, and those are experiences you can’t get just playing
regular travel ball.”
of course, he talks with Bundy the most frequently. Bundy is enjoying
a tremendous inaugural professional season with the Delmarva (Md.)
Shorebirds of the Class A South Atlantic League; he didn’t allow a
hit or a run and struck out 21 batters in his first 13 innings of
work in the Sally League.
talk to each other probably about once a week after we throw,”
Bradley said. “We’ve done a good job of keeping in touch with
professionally has been – and will continue to be – a learning
experience for Bradley. His days spent as a PG/Aflac All-American
notwithstanding, the minor leagues are a whole different ballgame
from what he experienced in the Oklahoma high school ranks.
just have to take into account that everyone can hit a fastball now.
Whether you’re throwing it 90 or 98 it doesn’t matter; everyone
can hit a fastball,” Bradley said. “It’s pro ball now so you
have to start understanding counts, when to throw certain pitches,
when to throw a ball up in the zone and when to throw it down. …
Learn what hitters’ weaknesses are and start throwing to those
rather than just raring back and trying to throw a fastball by a
like he said previously, Bradley feels like he is settling into a
routine of professional pitcher.
not throwing every fifth day; it’s the work in between that’s the
hardest thing to adjust to,” he said. “In high school, you go
from pitching to playing a position the next day, and you might not
throw for seven days after that. It’s just learning how to prepare
your arm … (and) your throwing program and things like that to
where you know when you go out that fifth day you’re fresh and
ready to go.”
said what Bradley needs more than anything right now is innings on
the mound. Just by going out and pitching every fifth day, Bradley
will learn how to better control the opposing team’s running game
and how to better field his position. He can also continue to work on
improving his changeup.
think he’s going to get better,” Cepeda said. “He asks a lot of
questions, which is good, because I think you learn from that. He
asks me (questions), and he even asks the hitting coaches about
hitters and what they expect in different situations and with
different counts. He’s still learning about his stuff but he’s
a sentiment Bradley readily shares.
as far as managing the game, throwing against hitters and being in
good situations, I’ve felt very comfortable and I’ve felt very
confident in what I’ve been able to do,” he said. “Hopefully I
can keep that going.”
Perfect Game scouting report (Ben Collman):
Bradley was sharp Friday night in cold, damp conditions in Cedar Rapids. He carried a perfect game through five innings and was lifted after walking the first three in the sixth. He struck out four and allowed two earned runs, both scoring after he departed, to lower his ERA to 2.08 on the year. For the season he has allowed just 8 hits and has issued 14 walks with 30 strikeouts in 26 innings.
Big and strong, the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Bradley was an Oklahoma quarterback commit before signing as the seventh overall pick in 2011. He has reached the upper-90s in the past with his fastball and worked 92-94 Friday night, pounding the bottom half of the zone. His fastball showed late sink and life and the Cedar Rapids Kernels made very little solid contact against it. His second plus offering is an 81-83 mph curveball with very hard spin and sharp late break. It shows depth and tilt and Bradley has a very good feel for the pitch. He also flashed a straight changeup at 84-86 with late run to the armside. He maintains his arm speed well on the pitch. Bradley is athletic, repeats his delivery and gets lots of extension out front with a very long stride. That coupled with his fantastic arm speed makes his 92-94 appear even harder and makes his fastball plus-plus when it sits 95-97.
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