Archie Bradley is answering a lot of questions at Triple-A Reno, but one remains. Can he perform like this at the Major League level?
The D-backs' No. 2 prospect fanned nine and allowed three hits and three walks in eight scoreless innings against Omaha on Saturday to take the Pacific Coast League's Pitcher of the Week honor. It's the fourth Pitcher of the Week award of Bradley's Minor League career and first since Aug. 5, 2013 with Double-A Mobile.
This latest outing was Bradley's longest of 2016 and marked the third straight start in which he lasted at least seven frames. Though Saturday was also his first scoreless outing since Opening Day, he has not allowed more than three earned runs in an outing this season and has a string of five straight quality starts with the Aces.
"I think that was one of those situations where guys say I got stronger as the game went along," the 23-year-old right-hander told MiLB.com after the gem. "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."
With the win, Bradley improved to 5-1 with a 1.99 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 47 strikeouts and 18 walks in seven starts (40 2/3 innings) with Reno. He leads the PCL with a 10.4 K/9 and ranks third in both ERA and FIP (2.88). Those numbers are certainly encouraging for the 2011 first-rounder, who has found it difficult to break through in the Majors.
Bradley cracked Arizona's Opening Day roster last season but was limited to eight starts after being hit in the face in April and experiencing right shoulder tendinitis in June. With a 5.80 ERA and 22 walks in 35 2/3 innings, Bradley was optioned to Reno to begin 2016, a move that didn't sit well initially.
"Yeah, I was [ticked] off I didn't make the team. I think anyone in that situation would tell you that," he told MiLB.com last Saturday. "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."
Bradley has been Arizona's emergency starter on two occasions already this season, making spot starts on April 18 and May 9. He allowed five runs on seven hits and four walks in just 4 1/3 innings while not factoring in the decision against the Giants, then allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks in six frames in a win over the Rockies. He's averaged 93.7 mph on his fastball in those starts, up from 92.2 mph in the Majors last season, to go with his curve and changeup.
Although Bradley's stock has slipped in recent years from the lofty status as a top-10 overall prospect, his recent run at the Minors' highest level rekindles hope that he could still factor into Arizona's long-term rotation plans.
"I would say that's where I matured," Bradley said of the Majors. "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."
Here are the rest of the Minor League Pitchers of the Week for May 16-22:
International -- Daniel Wright, Louisville (CIN): 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 1 CG, 9 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 0 BB, 8 K
Eastern -- Matt Gage, Richmond (SF): 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 8 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 HBP, 1 BB, 5 K
Southern -- Jacob Faria, Montgomery (TB): 1-0, 1.29 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 HR, 0 HBP, 0 BB, 11 K
Texas -- Jordan Kipper, Arkansas (LAA): 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 1 SHO, 16 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 HR, 0 HBP, 3 BB, 8 K
California -- Daniel Gossett, Stockton (OAK): 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HBP, 2 BB, 9 K
Carolina -- Manny Martinez, Winston-Salem (CWS): 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 0 GS, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HBP, 0 BB, 9 K
Florida State -- Ricky Knapp, St. Lucie (NYM): 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 1 SHO, 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 HBP, 0 BB, 4 K
Midwest -- Fernando Romero, Cedar Rapids (MIN): 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HBP, 0 BB, 4 K
South Atlantic -- Nestor Cortes, Charleston (NYY): 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HBP, 1 BB, 12 K
Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB.