Archie Bradley was drafted four spots after fellow Diamondbacks prospect Trevor Bauer. While he is two levels below the club's top prospect, Bradley already is trying to prove he's just as good.
The D-backs' No. 2 prospect took a perfect game into the sixth inning before issuing three consecutive walks Friday as the Class A South Bend Silver Hawks beat the Cedar Rapids Kernels, 5-3.
After walking Carlos Lugo to load the bases, Bradley was replaced by Keith Hessler, who gave up a sacrifice fly to Kevin Moesquit. Ryan Jones followed with an RBI double before Hessler retired Kaleb Cowart and Frazier Hall to end the inning. Both runs were charged to Bradley, who fanned four over five hitless frames.
"It was all right, except for that last inning part," Bradley said. "I had everything going. My mechanics felt good. Just like in anything, anytime you can spot up fastball command and get that first-pitch strike over, it opens everything up. I was able to use the changeup more, the curve more and threw the fastball well."
Bradley (3-1) was the second of Arizona's two first-round picks last June, selected seventh overall. While he has not attracted the same attention that Bauer has, the 19-year-old right-hander has been almost as dominant in his debut season. Bradley boasts a 2.08 ERA and has allowed eight hits over 26 innings while striking out 30.
"I put pressure on myself every time, but I'm trying to put up better numbers than him [Bauer]," Bradley said. "I'm enjoying my time here, but in no way do I want to spend the whole year in A-ball. I want to prove to the D-backs that I can move up a level."
Command has been an issue for Bradley, who's walked 14 batters. That statistic is not lost on him.
"It was something I was harping on," the Oklahoma native said. "Last season, including pro ball, I only issued nine walks. This year, it was 11 and it was really getting on my nerves. I'm letting hitters get on for free instead of making them earn it."
Bradley believes Friday's outing shows he needs to continue to focus on his command, especially mentally.
"You throw good for five innings and then don't stay as mentally sharp, you can let guys get on like it's nothing and you can end up losing the ballgame," he said. "You have to stay sharp on every pitch. As soon as you throw a ball or strike or a homer, forget about that last pitch because you have to throw another."
Hessler allowed one hit in the sixth before giving way to Tyler Green, who gave up an unearned run on one hit over the final three innings to earn his first save.
"It's how it's been all year," Bradley said of the Silver Hawks' bullpen. "Nothing against our other affiliates, but I feel like we have the best bullpen. Our 'pen has carried us and helped the starters."
Gerson Montilla drove in three runs, while Chris Ellison had two hits and scored twice for South Bend.