D-backs’ Bauer, Skaggs and Bradley do damage early
There is that old adage about how you can never have enough pitching. The Arizona Diamondbacks must be blushing every time someone says that about them as their embarrassment of riches in that department surely make every other team in the majors jealous, and a little scared at the same time. This is a team that won the 2001 World Series by riding the backs of two of the best in Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. Soon, they will have five or six to rely on.
Already having three studs at the major league level in Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson and Trevor Cahill, the trio of Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs and Archie Bradley give the organization, and fans, World Series aspirations for the foreseeable future.
The three minor-leaguers have combined to go 21.2 innings on the season, with 32 strikeouts to eight walks. They have allowed a total of two runs on 13 hits. That checks out to a 0.82 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and a staggering 13.3 K/9. None is older than 21.
Bauer, the third-overall pick in the 2011 draft, had one of the most dominant seasons ever by a pitcher at UCLA going 13-2 with a 1.25 ERA, 0.79 WHIP and 203 K/36 BB over 137 innings. He struck out 43 over 25.2 innings (15.2 K/9) in his pro debut over two leagues last season. Over his two starts at double-A Mobile this year, he is 2-0, with 18 K/7 BB over 10.2 innings, including 11 strikeouts over 5.2 innings in his last start. He has yet to allow a run while giving up just four hits, and signs reading “Bauer outage” can be seen all over the ballpark. The 21-year-old right-hander is on the fast track and should be pitching at Chase Field by the end of the year, possibly as early as June. His arsenal of pitches is almost as confusing as his delivery, which makes even the best hitters uncomfortable at the dish. He throws a four-seam fastball, two different change-ups, two different curveballs, a dot slider, a circle slider, a reverse slider and a splitter. That is nine if you are keeping track at home. Most pitchers find it hard to work with three. I hope he treats his catchers well.
Skaggs, a 6’-4”, 200-pound left-hander, was originally drafted by the Angels, along with Mike Trout, in the 2009 draft. He was traded to the D-backs as the centerpiece in a trade that sent Dan Haren to the Angels. Armed with two devastating pitches, a fastball that sits in the upper-90s with late movement, and a hammer curve that is a true wipe out pitch, the 21-year-old has been sitting down hitters left and right since he made his pro debut. Over 272.2 minor league innings, he has a 3.00 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 320 K/76 BB. His 10.6 K/9 and 4.2 K/BB ratios show the kind of power and command he possesses. He made the jump to double-A Mobile last season, and got better as the competition did, going 4-1 with a 2.50 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 73 K/15 BB over 57.2 innings. In his first start of this season at Mobile, he tossed six innings, allowing one run on five hits. He struck out seven and didn’t allow a walk. His aggressive demeanor on the mound, and ability to shine in big games, are going to make him a fan favorite from day one in Arizona.
The Diamondbacks were in rare company as they held two of the top seven picks in the draft in 2011. In fact, they were the only team ever to hold two of the top seven picks as they had the third for finishing with the third worst record in 2010, and the seventh for failing to sign their 2009 first-rounder, Barret Loux. After using their first pick on Bauer, they decided to take another star pitcher in Archie Bradley, a 6’-4″ right-handed high school star from Broken Arrow HS in Oklahoma. He went 12-1, with a 0.29 ERA and 137 K/11 BB over 71.1 innings his senior season. He lead his team to a state title by tossing seven scoreless innings, allowing just two hits, while striking out 14 in the title game.
The 19-year-old made his much anticipated debut for class-A South Bend on April 5, going five innings, allowing just one run on four hits. He struck out seven to one walk. Bradley features three outstanding pitches, with his curveball being his best. It is a knuckle-curve that sits in the mid 80s and is a true 12-6 wipeout pitch. His four-seam fastball can reach 98 mph, while his two-seamer sits in the mid 90s with late fade. His change-up is still developing but looks to be a solid offering. He has an advanced feel for the game, and coupled with his frame and durability, could also be on the fast track to the majors.
All of that talent and I still haven’t talked about Josh Collmenter or Patrick Corbin, two more polished pitchers in the organization. Collmenter, a 26-year-old right-hander, went 10-10 for the Diamondbacks last season as a rookie, with a 3.38 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. He had 100 strikeouts to just 28 walks over 154.1 innings last year and has arguably the best control on the team. The 22-year-old Corbin, a 6’-3” left-hander, has gone 27-14 over his minor league career with a 3.93 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 329 K/89 BB over 357.1 innings. He lead the team in innings pitched this spring, going 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 20 K/8 BB over 21 innings. He held opponents to a .178 batting average. He uses his 91 mph fastball with sinking, tailing action, and hard slurve to induce ground out after ground out.