Things are going so well for Archie Bradley this season that even when he's a little bit off, he still seems nearly untouchable.
The D-backs' No. 2 prospect overcame a season-high five walks by allowing two hits over six shutout innings Friday night, pitching Double-A Mobile to a 6-2 victory over Mississippi.
Even if it wasn't Bradley at his absolute best, it was a nice example of how difficult it is to get to him this year.
"I didn't give up a run, only two hits, but it wasn't really that I was struggling, I just didn't have the exact command I wanted," said Bradley, who struck out five. "But I ended up throwing the ball real well and, overall, I was pleased with it."
The 20-year-old right-hander issued his fair share of free passes last year, walking batters at a rate of 5.56 per nine innings for Class A South Bend. More importantly, he showed how dominant he can be, striking out 152 batters (10.06 per nine innings) while registering a 3.84 ERA.
This year, Bradley's been better across the board.
He needed only five starts with Class A Advanced Visalia in the hitter-friendly California League before convincing Arizona he was ready for the next level. In those five outings, the seventh overall pick in the 2011 Draft went 2-0 with a 1.26 ERA, 43 strikeouts and 10 walks in 28 2/3 frames.
With Mobile, MLB.com's No. 23 overall prospect is 4-0 in five starts with a 0.69 ERA and 30 strikeouts against 13 walks in 26 innings.
Overall this season, Bradley ranks second in the Minor Leagues with a 0.99 ERA and 73 strikeouts. He's averaging 12.02 punchouts and 3.79 walks per nine innings and boasts and 1.08 WHIP.
"Walks aren't an issue for me this year. You're gonna walk some people sometimes. The biggest thing is they didn't score [tonight]," Bradley said. "I'm not gonna say I expected to move up so fast, but it doesn't surprise me because of my work ethic, how hard I am on myself and what I expect from myself. I bust my butt in between starts to make sure I'm ready physically and mentally for my next start, I hold myself to a very high standard and if I don't meet it, I'm disappointed in myself.
"So I'm not surprised [with the season] because I expected it out of myself. But I'm very pleased and happy with the way things are going."
After pitching in the Cal League and successfully making one of the more difficult jumps for Minor Leaguers, Bradley seemingly has gotten better the more he's been challenged.
"[Double-A hitters] are a lot more disciplined, a lot more advanced with their approach," he said. "These are big leaguers-in-the-making that you're pitching against every night. The good thing about it is you get to 3-0, 3-1 in a count and guys wanna swing -- that's a hitter's count. If you think about that, you can calm yourself down, make a quality pitch down in the zone, which I did a couple times tonight and get a ground ball, a double play, when you've got guys on and get yourself out of an inning."
Offensively for Mobile, Justin Greene fell a homer short of the cycle, Keon Broxton doubled twice and plated two runs and Nick Evans also contributed a pair of RBIs.