D-backs' battery in good hands for future
Catcher Trahan, righty Bradley flash exciting potential in Minors
PHOENIX -- Not long ago, both Stryker Trahan and Archie Bradley were high school kids in small towns in the south.
That changed rather abruptly for each player when they became first-round Draft picks of the D-backs -- Trahan, a catcher, No. 26 overall in 2012 and Bradley, a pitcher, No. 7 overall in 2011.
Now fully immersed into their professional careers in the Minors, both players are showing why they could be a future battery pairing in the big leagues someday.
Taken out of Acadiana (La.) High School last year, Trahan had a .422 on-base percentage with 19 extra-base hits and 25 RBIs in 49 games for the D-backs' Arizona Rookie League team in 2012. The amount of immediate success the catcher experienced propelled him all the way to No. 9 on Arizona's Top Prospect list.
"His first summer was fantastic," D-backs scouting director Ray Montgomery said. "He showed no issues at all really, especially offensively."
Trahan will begin his 2013 campaign on June 14 when the D-backs' Class A short-season affiliate Hillsboro Hops open up their season.
In the interim, the 19-year-old has had to deal with tragedy in his life recently. Trahan's mother, Donna, passed away earlier this spring back home in Louisiana.
"Having lost my mom during a playing season, too, I really sympathize with what he's going through," said Montgomery, who played in the Majors for three years in the 1990s. "That was the closest person to him and he has to deal with her gone on a day-to-day basis, that's tough."
A couple days after the D-backs selected Trahan last year, he visited Phoenix to sign his first professional contract and take batting practice at Chase Field. Among the family there with him was Donna, who spoke glowingly of her son.
"He's an awesome kid," she said. "The D-backs are getting a lot more than a good baseball player."
Montgomery believes once his Minor League team's season begins, the everyday nature of baseball will help Trahan cope with his loss better.
"I think that'll do him good to get away from everything and get into a routine schedule," Montgomery said. "He's doing everything he needs to do, but I know deeper under the skin there is some real hurt going on."
While Trahan's bat continues to be what stands out most in the catcher's game, Montgomery also hopes to see steady improvement defensively from the backstop in his second year catching professional pitchers.
"Especially coming from high school, you aren't exposed to the type of arms we feature, so it takes some patience to get yourself up to the speed of the game," Montgomery said. "But so far, his progression on defense has been great."
As for Bradley, who turned down a football scholarship at the University of Oklahoma to enter the D-backs' organization fresh out of Broken Arrow (Okla.) High School in 2011, his ascension through the Minors has been as seamless as it gets.
After pitching in just two Rookie League games in 2011, he spent his first full professional season last year in Class A ball, finishing 12-6 in 27 starts with a 3.84 ERA over 136 innings while striking out an astounding 152 batters.
So far in 2013, Bradley has picked up right where he left off, punching out 43 in just 28 2/3 innings for Class A Advanced Visalia before being promoted to Double-A Mobile on May 2. The step up in competition didn't stop the 20-year-old from dominating opponents, though; he has been just as good in the Southern League.
In seven starts for Mobile, Bradley boasts a 1.13 ERA with 41 strikeouts over 40 innings while opposing batters are hitting just .180 off him.
Ranked as the D-backs' No. 2 prospect and the No. 23 prospect overall, Bradley was named his organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Month in both April and May.
"Knock on wood, the reports have been good and I credit Archie with that," Montgomery said. "He's developed a lot mentally. Certainly we knew we had the physical talent, but his preparation between starts and how he goes about handling himself, it's really been fun to watch. He's really made a big turn."
While Bradley figures to reach the Majors sometime between 2014 and 2015, Trahan is obviously a ways behind, especially with Miguel Montero under contract until 2018. Still, the pairing could eventually be in the same lineup together for the D-backs, with Trahan holding down the signs for Bradley to rock and fire.
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.