Players often talk about the jump from Class A to Double-A being the hardest transition in all of baseball.
Taking that sentiment a few steps further, D-backs' first-rounder Archie Bradley believes he could find success going directly from the Midwest League to the Majors.
MLB.com's No. 18 prospect surrendered a lone fourth-inning double and one walk while striking out six batters over five innings as the Class A South Bend Silver Hawks one-hit the Bowling Green Hot Rods in Monday's 2-0 victory in the first game of a doubleheader.
"Honestly I don't want to come across as cocky at all, but I really feel I could pitch in the big leagues right now," said Bradley. "There's still a lot I need to learn, but I believe in myself and in my pitches. I feel like I could hold my own if I moved up.
"Everyone struggles with complacency. If you have a good outing or a couple good outings, you think about maybe moving up and about what could happen next. It still crosses my mind, but the biggest thing for me right now is throwing my changeup more. I've learned a ton, and I'm still learning."
In eight Midwest League outings this year, Bradley (5-1) has a 2.25 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 40 innings. In half of those starts, the D-backs' No. 2 prospect has allowed one hit or fewer. In total, he has yielded just 14 hits in the first five weeks of the season, and opponents are batting just .107 against him, the lowest mark in the league.
The 19-year-old's five wins are also tied for the league lead with three other pitchers, while his 44 punchouts rank third.
On Tuesday, Bradley retired the first eight batters he faced before Tyler Goeddel reached on third baseman Matt Helm's throwing error. Selected seventh by Arizona in the 2010 Draft, Bradley helped his cause by picking Goeddel off first base, but he lost his no-hit bid an inning later when Drew Vettleson stroked a one-out double to left field.
"The kid hit the ball well," Bradley said of the Hot Rods' lone hit. "I threw him a first-pitch fastball for a ball then I came back with a changeup away and he swung and missed pretty badly. I went back to a fastball and he got the bat there and hit it the other way. I tip my hat to him, he just beat me. He hit my best pitch.
"I wouldn't take the pitch back; if anything I would have gone inside. I missed away and he hit it."
The Oklahoma native worked around the two-bagger by striking out the following two batters, and he stranded runners on the corners in the fifth to complete his night.
"I definitely wanted to [stay in the game]. I definitely wanted to go back out for the sixth inning and maybe even have a chance to finish it considering it was only a seven-inning game," he added.
"But there's a bigger picture and there's a lot of the season left. The more innings I have left later in the season the better. I want to help the Silver Hawks win the Midwest League. If I keep my sights set on that, everything else will take care of itself. I have to enjoy the process."
That process Tuesday was even more important to Bradley considering he was coming off his worst outing as a professional. On Wednesday, he surrendered five runs -- three earned -- on four hits and two walks over a season-low four innings.
"That is the thing about baseball. That's what defines you and helps you move forward," Bradley said about putting the last game behind him. "You have to have a short memory. You can either dwell on it or forget about it."
On Tuesday, Kable Hogben struck out one batter in a perfect sixth and Matt Semple fanned a pair over a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his second save and seal the one-hit shutout.
Second baseman Gerson Montilla reached base safely twice and doubled home what proved to be the eventual winning run in the fourth. Catcher Fidel Pena plated South Bend's other run with a single that scored Montilla later in the same frame, and that was more than enough to support Bradley.
"I feel like, overall, this was my best outing I've had all year," said Bradley, who threw around 75 pitches. "One hit, no runs and one questionable walk. I threw the changeup the most I have all year and I got ahead with my fastball. I was able to throw any pitch in any count. That gives me a lot of confidence going forward.
"I've thrown no-hitters and one-hitters in summer ball and I've been working on a couple this year. The hit today wasn't a big deal for me. I got to work from the stretch and that's a good thing."
Bowling Green starter Felipe Rivero (2-3) allowed two runs on four hits and a walk while striking out six batters across five innings in the loss.