Archie Bradley hopes to make his permanent residence in the deserts of Phoenix, but he's had no problem using his arm to warm up the crisp mountain air of Reno.
The 23-year-old right-hander struck out nine over eight scoreless innings Saturday night as Triple-A Reno shut down visiting Omaha, 3-1. Bradley yielded three hits and three walks while throwing 68 of 108 pitches for strikes.
The D-backs' second-ranked prospect has won his last three Pacific Coast League starts, allowing four runs on 13 hits and six walks while fanning 24 in 22 innings.
"I've said this virtually every start this year, but it all starts behind the plate," he said. "[Catcher] Tuffy Gosewisch always comes up with a great plan. He guides me through the game and understands the hitters and what they swing at and why they swing when they do. It's easy to get into a nice, even flow with him behind the plate."
Already with 10 Major League starts under his belt, MLB.com's No. 68 overall prospect has made two starts for Arizona this season but returned to Reno after both. Although disappointed not to be with the D-backs from the start of the season, Bradley (5-1) is making the most of his time with the Aces and said he knows what he has to do to remedy that situation.
"Yeah, I was [ticked] off I didn't make the team. I think anyone in that situation would tell you that," he said. "But as mad as I was, I knew it was on me and it was no one else's fault. I needed to go to Triple-A to work on things and I've done that and will continue to do that. Whether it's here or in A-ball, it doesn't matter to me. I'm just focused on being the best player I can be.
"But it's also not just about me. I'm getting help from everyone out there. My teammates, my coaching staff, Tuffy, my pitching coach [Gil Heredia]. It's a total team effort and I'm just going out and having fun."
Bradley kept the game scoreless early on, pitching to contact while fanning only two of the first 14 Storm Chasers he faced. As the game progressed, however, he showed the power arm that has racked up a PCL-leading 47 strikeouts in 40 2/3 innings. He punched out seven of the last 16 batters he faced, striking out the side in the seventh.
"I think that was one of those situations where guys say I got stronger as the game went along," Bradley said. "I had a lot of quick, short innings early on, backed up by some great defensive plays and being aggressive. Later on, I was able to get ahead in the count and get in some put away situations. Not that I was trying to get strikeouts, necessarily, but I would try to put the hitters away as quickly as I could, and the strikeouts were part of that."
Second in the PCL with a 1.99 ERA behind Oklahoma City phenom Julio Urias, Bradley said he's enjoying life in Reno. But his mind is never far away from the big leagues.
"I would say that's where I matured," he said. "As a player, as a person, I understand it's a business. I've been blessed to go up twice so far. That's the goal and, hopefully, I'll get up there and stay. But for now, I'll do all I can in Reno. We have a great group of guys, a great team, great coaches. I love playing here. Obviously, I'm trying to get to the Majors and stay there, but I'm enjoying being a part of this Aces team right now."
Reno gave Bradley a lead in the third against Omaha's Jonathan Dziedzic as Kyle Jensen doubled in a run and D-backs No. 13 prospect Jack Reinheimer added an RBI single. Jensen added a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
D-Backs No. 29 prospect Silvino Bracho picked up his eighth save, despite allowing a solo homer to Royals No. 23 prospect Brett Eibner with one out in the ninth.
Dziedzic (1-5) lost his fourth straight decision, surrendering three runs on eight hits and a walk with seven strikeouts in five innings.
Michael Avallone is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MavalloneMiLB.