Young Archie Bradley resolved to listen, learn from D-backs' veterans
"He never wanted to listen," the Arizona Diamondbacks catcher and clubhouse leader said of departed pitching prospect Trevor Bauer while a guest on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM's Burns and Gambo last spring training.
The oft-outspoken Bauer quickly became known for his stubbornness within the Diamondbacks' organization, reportedly refusing to alter his quirky, pageant-like warm-up routine while frequently opting to dictate his own pitch-calling and game plan.
Naturally, he and Montero butted heads during Bauer's short-lived time as a big leaguer with the D-backs in 2012.
Bauer, a Diamondbacks' first-round draft pick in 2011, quickly received an uncanny amount of attention, both locally and nationally.
By Spring Training 2012, he had single-handedly drawn a media mob to his workouts at Salt River Fields, featuring a 450-foot foul-pole-to-foul-pole long toss, yoga-like stretching, medicine balls, a wiggle stick and sundry other unorthodox patterns.
But as his spectacle grew in fame, his organization's amusement was dwindling. They soon soured, repulsed by his cockiness and lack of teachability.
Two years removed from the circus that was Bauer, another Diamondbacks first-rounder from the 2011 draft, is bringing a dose of de ja vu to camp.
Non-roster invitee Archie Bradley, drafted four spots after Bauer at seventh overall in 2011, reported to Salt River Fields on Thursday as baseball's top pitching prospect. On Friday, at least five television cameras and more than a dozen reporters surrounded his locker, which was notably situated between Montero's and veteran catcher Henry Blanco's.
As the youngest player in the Diamondbacks' camp, the media was curious to know -- had he gleaned anything from the big leaguers he was joining?
"I'm just trying to pick up every bit that I can and use it to my advantage," he told the mix.
"Anything they say, you try to pick up and see how you can put it in to what you do every day and you just listen.
"That's what I'm trying to do more than anything."
This attitude from this big a pitching prospect sounds unfamiliar, at least in that particular facility, to that particular roster.
While locker neighbor Montero admits, "(This is) what happened here a couple of years ago," there's a different dynamic this time around.
"I knew what I was going to deal with after catching him," he said.
"(But) he's a pretty mature kid for 21 years old. And I think he knows how to handle himself in front of cameras."
The references and contrasts were subtly drawn, but they're materializing in an awfully stark fashion.
"When you bring guys to the big leagues, I think you're hoping that physically they're ready and emotionally they're ready," general manager Kevin Towers said when talking about Bradley on Friday.
"The physical skills set is definitely there and I think emotionally, he's pretty strong."
He seems ready to learn -- pleased to be between a pair of pitch callers who have been around the block.
"Being next to Miggy over here and Blanco, you know, getting their information (is great)," Bradley said, humbly smiling.
The Broken Arrow, Okla. native entered camp with 55 professional appearances under his belt. He's 26-11 with a 2.76 earned run average and a 9.9 strikeout-per-nine rate in his minor league career. In 2013, he logged a 1.84 ERA between two lower levels (High-A Visalia and Double-A Mobile) while going 14-5 in 152.0 innings pitched, striking out 162 of the batters he faced.
But it may be the emotional preparedness, the ability to adapt and the willingness to learn that prove his best assets in winning over his organization as he competes for a spot in the rotation.
"We're not holding him back with the reins by any means," Towers said.
"I think he's been preparing for this for some time."
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