MWL notes: Bradley proving his worth

D-backs first-rounder hitting 96 with fastball at South Bend

Archie Bradley signed a $5 million contract with Arizona. (Jordan Megenhardt/D-backs)

By Curt Rallo / Special to | April 19, 2012 7:17 AM ET

Archie Bradley was five minutes away from embarking on a career as a quarterback with the Oklahoma Sooners.

But a last-minute deal put Bradley on the pitcher's mound in the Arizona Diamondbacks' farm system, and the 6-foot-4 right-hander isn't wasting any time proving his ability.

Bradley has flashed 96 mph speed and has a rainbow to go with his lightning.

"Archie is definitely a special, special guy, a special pitcher," Arizona farm director Mike Bell said. "His stuff is exceptional. His fastball has a lot of late life. He has a really good swing-and-miss curveball, and his changeup is coming, too."

Bradley is 1-1 with a 1.13 ERA in three starts. In 16 innings, he has allowed two runs and six hits, striking out 22 and walking six. He has been particularly tough on right-handers, striking out 13 without a walk. Against a red-hot Lansing team that won 11 of its first 12 games, Bradley pitched five no-hit innings before being taken out and settling for a no-decision.

Bell said that the D-backs aren't putting Bradley, the team's No. 2 prospect, on a fast track for the sake of a quick promotion to the big leagues.

"He's got the confidence," Bell said. "He believes in himself. I don't think he's going to have any trouble at the next couple of levels the way it looks right now, but we're also not necessarily in a rush to get him out of South Bend. We want to make sure we develop him at the right pace. We think he's in the right spot right now.

"He's a high school kid," Bell continued. "I don't think there is any advantage to start him out at a higher level. We have some time to do what's right for him."

Bradley said that he struggled with the decision to sign with the D-backs. The first-round pick and No. 7 overall selection in last season's Draft was well compensated for choosing baseball, picking up a $5 million bonus.

"I thought about it a long time," Bradley said. "It took me all summer to sign. It was a big decision.

"It was pretty nerve-racking. We talked to the Diamondbacks early in the morning the day of the deadline, and then we didn't hear from them until an hour before the deadline. You start realizing, you're 30 minutes away from going to college or going pro. The anticipation ... it's pretty exciting."

Bradley said his blazing fastball isn't the only weapon in his arsenal, but it is the heavy artillery.

"I kind of got blessed, I guess," Bradley said. "I don't know any other way to describe it. I've always thrown hard. I've always been a fastball-curveball guy. All my focus is on throwing a changeup, and throwing it consistently.

"I can still rear back and overpower people for the most part, but it's professional baseball now. Every guy can hit a fastball. It's not trying to overpower people. It's about knowing when to throw it. If you study hitters and study scouting reports, you understand counts, you understand when to rear back and throw a fastball by a guy, then most of the time you can overpower a guy. I try to be a student of the game."

In brief

Red hot: The Lansing Lugnuts won a franchise-record seven games to start the season and are 11-1 after 12 contests. Despite the great start, first-year manager John Tamargo Jr. still has a ways to go to get close to his father, who won more than 1,000 games as a Minor League manager.

Twin-sanity: Steve Selsky and his twin sister, Samantha, have a habit of doing things in pairs. They got identical scores on an SAT test. They suffered through hospital visits on the same day due to sports injuries. And when Samatha transferred to the University of Dayton for volleyball, it shouldn't have been a surprise when Steve was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds and assigned to ... Dayton, of course.

Fighting cancer: Peoria Chiefs pitching coach Tom Pratt was diagnosed with brain cancer and has been replaced on the Chiefs' staff by Ron Villone. Pratt is undergoing treatment in Arizona.

"First of all, our thoughts and prayers are with Tom Pratt and his family at this time," Chiefs president Rocky Vonachen said in a statement. "Tom is an important part of the Chiefs and Cubs family and we hope for a speedy recovery and encourage all our fans to keep him in their thoughts as he begins his battle against cancer. We also welcome Ron to the Chiefs organization and look forward to working with him during the 2012 season."

Pratt was on the Chiefs' coaching staff in 2005 and was also on the Daytona Cubs staff the last three seasons. The 61-year-old is a 13-year veteran of the Cubs organization. He pitched with Kansas City and California from 1969-73.

Villone is a 15-year Major League veteran who pitched for 12 different franchises, a record shared by several players.

Curt Rallo is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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