The Arizona Diamondbacks made a big splash this off-season by adding young pitcher Trevor Cahill to their starting rotations. Despite the need to upgrade their starting pitching, the team still has great depth in their minor league system from the talent they have been accumulating in recent drafts. One of the prospects they have high hopes for is J.R. Bradley, a lanky 19 year old right hander.
Bradley was taken in the second round (56th overall pick) in the 2010 MLB Draft by Arizona. He was a high school star in South Charleston, West Virginia at Nitro High School, winning two AAA state championships during his career. He played in the infield, but was most spectacular on the mound, going 31-2 with 295 strikeouts for varsity.
Bradley was 12-0 as a senior in 2010, with a 0.67 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 63 innings. The amazing season earned him the Gatorade West Virginia Player of the Year Award and a lot of notoriety heading into the draft. He originally signed a letter of intent to play with North Carolina State, but changed his mind after his high draft selection.
Now two years into his professional career, Bradley has yet to find the groove that made him a top draft pick. He struggled in 2010, but improved in nearly every category in 2011, all while pitching at a higher level (Low-A). More information about his statistics is available here.
Scouts believe that Bradley, who throws in the low 90’s, has plenty of room to grow and develop as a pitcher. Look for him to take a major step forward in 2012 and establish himself as one of Arizona’s top prospects. Until then, take a moment to get to know him a little better by reading this interview he recently did. You can also follow him on Twitter at @JR_Brad.
J.R. Bradley Interview:
Who were your favorite team and player growing up and why?: Growing up I always liked the Reds, just because they were the closest team and we always got their games on tv.
What coach or manager has been most influential on you so far?: Probably my high school coach overall. Just always pushing me to get to where I am and where I want to be. In pro ball, my manager this year, Mark Haley. Hales always stuck with me and made me realize that it’s the process that’s what’s important right now.
Can you run through what your draft experience was like?: It was crazy; just sort of a dream you’ve always had. I was actually talking to Oakland when the D-Backs took me
What has been your favorite highlight from your career so far?: My first win in pro ball. It was hard to do because of the inning and pitch limits, but it happened in Missoula the year I was drafted.
How much information and guidance are young players given about PEDs, managing money, and other aspects of being a professional athlete?: We’re guided pretty strongly. The PED’s is something that you just know is bad; there’s no real talk about it; it’s something you know as a baseball player you don’t do. As far as the other stuff, it’s just learning as you go along.
What is the anticipation like as you keep making progress and keep getting closer to the major leagues?: Honestly I’m just trying to get better and learn myself as a pitcher and a person. I’m just looking to pitch my way through the system, taking it one step at a time.
What is it like to have baseball cards, fans, and requests for autographs, etc…?: It’s pretty cool. I just remember how I was as a kid, so I try and make sure I sign as much as I can for everyone.
How aware/interested are you in baseball history?: I play the game for a living, so I have a pretty good idea as well as a strong interest in the history of the game.