Making a rehab start at Double-A Mobile on Thursday, Archie Bradley looked pretty comfortable wearing the uniform of the club with which he won Southern League Player of the Year honors a year ago.
Across four innings, the highest-rated pitching prospect in baseball gave up one run on three hits and four walks with one strikeout. Long after his exit, Jacksonville's Rich Poythress hit an RBI single in the 10th inning, to send the BayBears to a 4-3 loss at Hank Aaron Stadium.
Bradley threw 72 pitches -- 41 for strikes -- in his second rehab appearance since going on the shelf because of a right elbow injury after five April starts at Triple-A Reno.
"It was definitely good to get back out there," the D-backs' top prospect said. "It's on a limited pitch count and I walked a couple guys, but the biggest thing was getting out there to compete. My arm feels good. I'm just a little bit out of shape right now, and I think that's what led to some of the walks."
The seventh overall pick of the 2011 Draft spent the final four months of last season at Mobile, where he went 12-5 with a 1.97 ERA over 21 starts.
That success led him to begin this year in Reno. He dealt with adversity there, posting a 1-4 record and a 5.18 ERA between April 6-26. Then the elbow problem became a factor, and he did not pitch again until last Saturday with the AZL D-backs. He allowed two runs on five hits and one walk while fanning six over four innings in a 10-9 win over the Cubs.
For the most part, the 21-year-old was satisfied with the latest step in his recovery process.
"From what I was told, I was at 92-96 [mph], which was really positive for me," Bradley said. "Before I got hurt, the velo was down and I wasn't consistent with it.
"I've been out for two months. It's only my second outing back. I've got some work to do, but I'm very pleased with it."
On Thursday, the Oklahoma native yielded up a leadoff single to Austin Nola, who was promptly caught stealing by catcher Mark Thomas. Bradley issued his first free pass to Alex Burg with two outs in the second.
To start the third, Terrence Dayleg drew a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After issuing a walk to opposing starter Justin Nicolino, Nola smacked an RBI double. Austin Barnes followed with a fielder's choice grounder and J.T. Realmuto flied out to right fielder Dustin Martin, who threw out Nola at home.
In Bradley's final frame, Brady Shoemaker reached on a leadoff walk, but was caught stealing by Thomas. Following a two-out single by Burg, Isaac Galloway flew out to center.
"The first two innings, I was putting the ball where I wanted it," Bradley said. "I felt really good with my command. [I was] call it, 'out of shape,' pitching-wise. I was kind of tired, kind of started rushing and just losing my mechanics. But I had some big defensive plays behind me, and I was able to regroup and make the pitches when it counted.
"I'm just glad that I'm healthy and that's the main thing. Stay healthy and just polish some things and keep getting better, and the rest will take care of itself."
Nicolino, fresh off his first complete-game shutout, allowed two runs during his five innings. The Marlins' No. 3 prospect gave up six hits, including a homer to Martin, striking out four without issuing a walk. It made for his shortest outing since May 3, when he departed after 2 1/3 innings after taking a comebacker to the left arm.
"He just seemed to run out of gas," Suns manager Andy Barkett said. "After the nine innings he threw last time, he went five tonight. He did his job. We went to the bullpen at that point just to try to complete the game. He was throwing the ball OK, just didn't seem as sharp as he was the last time out."