It was all smiles on Wednesday as top prospect Archie Bradley made his first start at Coveleski Stadium in South Bend.
While most of the SnakePit was tuned into the D-backs/Padres game last night and busy in the GDT, I had the privilege of watching the seventh pick from the 2011 draft, one Archie Bradley, work for Low-A South Bend. Not only did Bradley shine, but all three of the Hawks' pitchers on Wednesday night were legitimate prospects, giving me a ton of notes to share with you all. You'll find them after the jump in an extended version of the Farm Round-Up.
Snakelet of the Day:
Archie Bradley (Low-A): 6 IP, 27 BF, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 7:3 K:BB, 5:4 GO:AO
Triple-A: Reno 3, Salt Lake 11. (2-5) Starter Chris Jakubauskas had a rough outing against a very potent Salt Lake offense, surrendering six runs on eight hits and two walks in just 4.2 innings of work for the Aces. After 1.1 scoreless frames from Bryan Woodall, Daniel Stange picked up where Jakubauskas left off, one-upping Jakubauskas' 11.57 ERA on the night with a 54.00 ERA of his own, surrendering four runs while notching just two outs by walking four and allowing three hits. Sam Demel worked 1.1 innings of scoreless relief and Jensen Lewis allowed one run in the ninth to cap off the carnage. At the dish, Jacob Elmore and Cole Gillespie each had a double and a single, while LHP/DH (you don't read that everyday) Jason Lane doubled as well.
Double-A: Mobile 3, Pensacola 2. (6-1) The BayBears continue to receive excellent pitching performance after excellent pitching performance, this time coming from right-hander Charles Brewer. Brewer worked six innings and allowed two runs for Mobile, striking out four with no walks, with the damage came off a two-run home run from Mike Costanzo in the sixth inning. Southpaw Eury De La Rosa worked two scoreless frames, while Matt Gorgen worked a scoreless ninth to keep the score locked at two apiece, giving the bats the opportunity to walk it off in the bottom half of the ninth.
Marc Krauss was the big bat in this game, hitting a double and drawing a pair of walks. Alfredo Marte and Kyle Greene each doubled as well, while Matt Davidson walked and singled twice and David Nick walked and singled once. Davidson's two-hit day brought his average up to .440 (.563 OBP, .520 SLG) on the year, while Nick is now hitting .433 (.469 OBP, .500 SLG).
Hi-A: The final game of Visalia's three-game set against Modestro was postponed, meaning that left-hander Andrew Chafin will start tomorrow at home against Rancho Cucamonga.
Low-A: South Bend 3, Fort Wayne 1. (3-3) I had been anticipating this game ever since the end of last year, when I first began to wonder if Bradley would start the year at South Bend. Even with all of that anticipation setting my expectations high, I can truly say that I wasn't disappointed. It was extremely cold out (surprise, surprise), with the temperature at a brisk 51 degrees at first pitch and down to around 40 degrees by the end of the game. With South Bend's outdoor ballpark, all of the pitchers had a couple of ticks missing from their pitches tonight.
Even still, Bradley showed off his big arm. His heater sat at 91-94 mph, hitting 95 twice, and was complimented by an absolutely devastating curveball that he commanded superbly and threw anywhere from the upper-70's to the low-80's. He commands it so well, in fact, that it's probably already the better of his two main pitches. His changeup is his distant third pitch, although that isn't as much a knock on that pitch as it is praise of the other two. The hardest contact made off of Bradley on the night was on a changeup that Bradley left up in the zone, so it's apparent that he's still discovering his feel of the pitch. Nonetheless, he gets plenty of velocity separation between his fastball and changeup, so it's only a matter of repetitions and feel before for it to be at least a big-league-average offering.
Bradley struggled to find the strike zone at the start of the game, walking the first batter, shortstop Jace Peterson, on four pitches. Peterson quickly stole second and was bunted over to third, after which Archie issued another walk to put runners on the corners with one out. This is pure speculation, but I think it's a pretty safe bet to say that Archie Bradley has not faced many first-and-third situations with one out in the top of the first inning prior to tonight's outing. This made the fact that Bradley was able to limit the damage to one run on a pair of fly balls to center field, rather than let it snowball out of control, all the more impressive.
Out of the storm of the first inning, Bradley found the strike zone and began dominating. Bradley's second inning was a 1-2-3 struck-out-the-side affair, with all three K's looking on nasty hooks. Fort Wayne only had two baserunners reach against Bradley after the first inning.
Bradley was followed by Tyler Green, who came out firing 89-91 mph fastballs (it was closer to 40 degrees by this point in the game) with a hammer of his own from the upper-70's to low-80's. He didn't show a changeup in the first inning he worked, but threw a pair of brilliant ones in his second inning of work. Green's motion looked a lot easier than it did at the end of last year when he seemed to tire, although his arm action isn't completely clean and I'm unsure of how it'll work in the rotation.
If he can start long-term, I see Green possessing a ceiling as high as a #2 starter - though I doubt this is a consensus - but I would label him as less likely to reach that ceiling in the rotation than even the typical Low-A teenage starter. If he goes to the bullpen, Green could be a great set-up man, particularly if he could add another extra mile per hour or two in shorter stints and get some extra heat behind his hammer as well.
Finishing off the game was right-hander D.J. Johnson, a minor-league free agent pickup by Arizona prior to the 2011 season. I wasn't expecting a lot from Johnson, but have to admit that he was very impressive. Johnson worked mostly with a 90-92 mph cutter that was maybe a single mph below his regular fastball, and paired the cutter with a solid slider in the low-80's that had plenty of movement. Johnson looks like a potential big-league bullpen arm and an impressive scouting find off the scrap heap. Oh, he's also listed at 6'4", 235 lbs. and has an awesome beard, so you just know the D-backs TV booth would love him.
The pitching was certainly the highlight of the night for me, but two of the position players stood out to me as well. Second baseman Gerson Montilla - the best position player prospect on the club - knocked a double down the third base line, fought off a good pitch low-and-away to center field for a single, and drew a walk. Montilla has been pull-focused and aggressive when I've watched him before, so to see him go up-the-middle on a pitch outside of his power zone and show some patience was nice. Finally, shortstop Josh Parr flashed some fine leather in the field, showing a good ability to come in on soft grounders, an excellent transfer, and good accuracy throwing on the run. I'd like to follow him at the plate for a few days and see how he fares on plays in the hole, but I'm certainly intrigued.