Reno Aces top gun Bradley getting closer to call-up to D-backs

2014-04-13T00:00:00Z Reno Aces top gun Bradley getting closer to call-up to D-backsBy Zack Rosenblatt Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

As reporters approached Archie Bradley at his Kino Stadium locker on Friday night, he had on a T-shirt and boxer briefs.

No pants.

“I’m not going to put my pants on,” he said, smiling.

He wasn’t kidding.

Earlier in the day, on his Southwest flight to Tucson from Reno, he left his wallet on the plane.

“I got lucky on the plane and actually got a big seat,” he said. “I put it (the wallet) in the pouch in front of me and walked right off the plane.”

Friday, he started for the Reno Aces — the Diamondbacks Triple-A team — against the El Paso Chihuahuas at Kino.

In the bottom of the second inning, against the second batter, and on the second pitch — a grounder struck Bradley in the calf.

Every one of the Aces fielders, the pitching coach and the trainer descended on the mound.

For about a minute, the D-backs front-office bigwigs were probably holding their collective breath.

It’s been that kind of week for Bradley, Arizona’s No. 1 prospect, and the No. 5 overall according to MLB.com. At some point, he’s expected to take up a spot in Arizona’s rotation, and eventually lead it.

So an injury scare is no good. Don’t worry, though. He was fine. Still is.

“I got lucky,” Bradley said before Saturday’s 11-1 win over El Paso at Kino Stadium.

He finished in seven innings against El Paso, with five strikeouts, and allowed two earned runs.

Last week against the Chihuahuas in Reno, his first start of the season, he went five innings, with no earned runs and three strikeouts.

Last year, between High-A and Double-A, Bradley was 14-5 with a 1.84 ERA and 162 strikeouts in 152 innings.

Clearly, the kid — he’s 21 — is talented.

“He’s definitely ahead of the curve,” said Aces manager Phil Nevin. “He probably has the stuff to go up there (to the majors).”

And he should be in the majors soon.

Out of spring training, Bradley lost the competition to be the No. 5 starter in Arizona’s rotation to Randall Delgado. So far, in three games, Delgado is 0-1 with a 10.13 ERA for the D-backs. As a team, Arizona is 4-9 with a 5.87 ERA, the worst in the majors.

In theory, a call-up should be imminent.

“Yeah, I just try to ignore that,” Bradley said. “That’s one bad thing I can do, get caught up in that, read too much into that, and try to pitch my way into Arizona. I’m here in Reno. I like my teammates, I like my staff here. I like the coaches, and I just want to win here and get better.”

He came close to never even joining the Diamondbacks in the first place: He was almost a quarterback for Bob Stoops’ Oklahoma Sooners.

Out of Broken Arrow High School in Oklahoma, as a three-star quarterback recruit, he signed on with Stoops to play football and baseball in Norman, Okla.

At 6 feet 4 inches and 220 pounds, Bradley has Nick Foles’ size. And he was pretty good, too.

Good enough, in fact, to be invited to ESPN’s annual Elite 11 quarterback competition. There, he played alongside the likes of Teddy Bridgewater — a likely first-round NFL draft pick this year — USC’s Cody Kessler, Notre Dame’s Everett Golson and Jeff Driskel of Florida.

Saturday, he made an afternoon trip to Arizona Stadium to watch the Wildcats’ spring football game, where Jesse Scroggins and Connor Brewer — also Elite 11 alumni — were playing.

Also there was Yogi Roth, an Elite 11 coach and Pac-12 football analyst.

Roth lit up as he talked about Bradley.

Roth said he’s fun-loving and a good spirit, along with extremely coachable and possessed of a great desire to learn.

“With him, I always think about a really authentic competitor,” Roth said. “Of course, a ridiculously talented competitor. You think about Oklahoma, and you think about what could have been.

“I saw him before the spring game (Saturday) and said, ‘Do you miss it?’”

Bradley didn’t hold back.

“Oh yeah,” Bradley said, smiling. “Big time.”

But the Diamondbacks, who picked Bradley No. 7 overall in the 2011 draft, are pretty happy he chose baseball.

“When Archie is ready to go,” Nevin said, “he’s going to go up and be very successful in the major leagues.

“He’s special. He’s got a special arm.”

Contact reporter Zack Rosenblatt at zrosenblatt@azstarnet.com or 573-4145. On Twitter @ZackBlatt

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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