Hawks' Bradley hurls six two-hit frames

D-backs' No. 2 prospect insists he's fine after a head-first dive

Archie Bradley leads the Midwest League with 63 walks. (Rinaldi Photos)

By Ashley Marshall / Special to MLB.com | July 23, 2012 7:40 PM ET

When Zeke DeVoss dropped a sacrifice bunt down the first-base line in the sixth inning, Archie Bradley knew he was the only person who had a play on the ball.

The seventh overall pick in the 2011 Draft fielded the ball cleanly and dove head-first toward first base -- instinctively more than anything -- to record the out. It's the type of play he says defines his team-first mentality.

But the cheers from the home crowd quickly shifted to muffled concerns when the right-hander limped back to the mound. Fortunately for Bradley and the D-backs, everything appeared to be fine.

The 6-foot-4 right-hander allowed two hits over six innings and survived the defensive scare Monday as the Class A South Bend Silver Hawks two-hit the Peoria Chiefs in a 2-0 victory.

"Me and the first baseman [Matt Helm] both went after the bunt, but I beat him to it," Bradley said. "So he wasn't at first and the second baseman [Eric Groff] wasn't covering. I looked at the runner and knew I wasn't going to beat him to the bag standing up.

"I laid out and beat him by my glove. On the dive, I lost my breath and scuffed my elbow and knee, but there are no injuries whatsoever. The manager and pitching coach held their breath. I'm a competitor and I'll get outs any way I can. I think it sends a message to the whole team that I'm not just playing for myself."

Arizona's No. 2 prospect behind highly touted right-hander Trevor Bauer, Bradley surrendered two doubles -- one in the second inning and one in the third -- and did not factor in the decision.

It was the 10th time this year he has gone at least five innings and limited the opposition to two hits or fewer. It was also just the fourth time Bradley issued just one free pass. He had averaged 3.2 in his previous 19 starts.

MLB.com's No. 15 prospect retired the first four batters he faced before Chadd Krist doubled to center field with one out in the second. But Bradley struck out Wes Darvill and induced an inning-ending ground ball off the bat of Bijan Rademacher to keep the game scoreless.

Yaniel Cabezas then ripped a two-bagger to left field an inning later, but Bradley set down 12 of the final 13 Chiefs before turning over a 0-0 game to the bullpen.

"I'm just trying to continue to improve," the 19-year-old said. "I put everything together for the first time in a long time. Except from the no-hitters and one-hitters, this was my best pro outing by far.

"I gave up a one-out double off the wall on a 1-0 or 1-1 fastball and I gave up a no-out double ... They just beat me on those two pitches, but that is part of the process. But I stayed composed and focused and I didn't let them score. I executed and I threw the pitches where I wanted them."

The outing lowered Bradley's ERA to 3.65. He still leads the Midwest League with 63 walks, but he also ranks second with 96 strikeouts, 15 behind Burlington's Drew Grainer. He is also holding hitters to a .160 batting average, the lowest mark on the circuit.

"I had those two outings in a row where I walked one in one and two in the other. I walked four again last time and loaded the bases in the fifth, but over the last four games I feel like I've turned a corner and started to figure things out," the Oklahoma native explained.

"I think a lot of high school pitchers have the mentality of striking everybody out. That's exciting and it gets the crowd going. But it is about going further into innings and extending outings."

On Monday, Matt Helm delivered the biggest blow of the night, ripping a two-run double to left field with one out in the ninth against Austin Reed. Both runs were charged to Luis Liria.

Kable Hogben (4-2) struck out four batters over two hitless innings of relief to earn the victory, and Kaleb Fleck pitched a perfect ninth to earn his second save.

Peoria's Yao-Lin Wang surrendered two four hits over 3 2/3 scoreless innings, but he did not factor in the decision. Liria, the second Chief out of the bullpen, slipped to 1-4 with the loss.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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