Archie Bradley is learning every time he toes the rubber. With that experience comes maturity.
Bradley (6-3) allowed three unearned runs on three hits and two walks while striking out seven batters over 7 2/3 innings in the Double-A Mobile BayBears' 9-3 win over the visiting Jacksonville Suns.
"It went really well. I allowed a few runs at the end, but all of them were unearned," MLB.com's No. 23 prospect said. "I had really good command and I threw the ball inside well. I was throwing everything, fastball, curveball, change-up.
"I probably threw the change-up five or six times, then it was mostly fastball-change-up. I was just throwing the change-up at the right times and not just throwing it to throw it. I threw it in the right situations, like when they were trying to cheat on my fastball."
The right-hander took a two-hit shutout into the eighth, but a leadoff walk, a fielding error by third baseman Ryan Court and Mark Canha's single to right field loaded the bases.
Bradley recorded consecutive strikeouts before giving way to the bullpen, but Matt Gorgen walked in one run and then surrendered a two-RBI hit to Zack cox. All three unearned runs were credited to Bradley.
"The biggest thing when you're pitching deep into the game with a big league is knowing that it's OK to give up a run," said Bradley, who doesn't turn 21 until August. "That is something my pitching coach [Dan Carlson] told me. It's OK to trade a run for an out. That's all about maturing and understanding the game to eliminate the big inning. I'm understanding that now.
"That's what happens when you're young. Not that I understand everything about the game now, but I understand more than I did last year or in high school. It's OK to try to get a ground ball or a popup. I don't need to strike everybody out."
Ranked No. 2 among D-backs prospects, Bradley was coming off consecutive losses in Pensacola and Jackson.
He made a conscious effort to keep the fastball down in the zone against the Suns on Thursday night, and he said that was the biggest key in being able to pitch into the eighth.
The outing lowered Bradley's ERA to a Southern League-leading 2.03. Opponents are now hitting .198 against him, the fourth-best mark on the circuit, and he is averaging 9.05 strikeouts per nine innings, which also ranks fourth.
"I think the only frustrating start was the last one [in Jackson on Saturday]. Before that, it's only been like two earned runs over six or seven innings and that's a quality start. A couple plays made here or there and it's a different story, but that's how it is. I left a lot of pitches up and Jackson made me pay for it.
"Tonight, the defense made some really nice plays behind me, in the infield and in the outfield. Especially in the fourth inning, they saved me a run."
Mobile first baseman Nick Evans homered, doubled and plated three runs, shortstop Nick Ahmed added a two-run homer and catcher Rossmel Perez also cleared the fences.
Jacksonville starter Jay Jackson (2-5) allowed six runs on nine hits and a walk while striking out four batters over five inning.