The Arizona Diamondbacks have recently fallen victim to the injury bug that is terrorizing Spring Training camps throughout Florida and Arizona. Staff ace, Patrick Corbin, has an elbow injury that will likely require Tommy John Surgery cause him to miss the entire 2014 season. Even the always reliable Bronson Arroyo is having back issues. It has long been expected 2014 would be the season top prospect Archie Bradley makes his big league debut, but now he has a real chance to break camp with the team when they get back from their Australia trip.
Bradley was the seventh overall pick in the loaded 2011 draft, with Gerrit Cole, Trevor Bauer, Danny Hultzen, and Dylan Bundy the pitchers selected ahead of him. His fastball works as high as 97 MPH and has good arm-side run. He also has a really good curve which can buckle knees, and an improving change. He suffers from the same issue many young pitchers suffer from, as he can issue too many walks, but that is expected to improve in time.
He has a solid frame, standing 6’4″ and weighing in at 225 lbs. His delivery is smooth, and controlled, with the ball coming out of a consistent high 3/4 arm slot. His balance could improve, as he can fall towards the first base side at times and causes his curve to stay up in the zone, which could be incredibly dangerous pitching in Arizona.
Bradley is a rare pitcher with legit number one upside as a power arm that can rack up the strikeouts. With his current arsenal, he is probably a third or fourth starter, as his change is currently average and his control is lacking. That said, his change projects to become a third plus pitch, and his walk rate dropped from 5.6 per nine to 4.1 from 2012 to 2013. Continued improvement in both those aspects of his game, and better consistency in his delivery, and he could be that ace.
With there being three big areas in need of improvement (change-up, walk rate, and balance) I would not put a likely role of a true number one on him, but he should be a multiple time opening day starter, and could frequent All-Star games.