I will be running a new interview with one of the best MLB draft prospects 2011 has to offer each Sunday and Wednesday up until June, and you can click here to find an up to date archive of them all.
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Kevin Levine-Flandrup: I’ve seen you listed at about 6’4”, 230 lbs. What is your current height and weight?
Archie Bradley: That’s about right. My weight just fluctuates depending on what I’ve done with myself that day, so I’m right around 6’4”, 225-230 lbs.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Did you hit a growth spurt recently, or have you always been a big kid?
Archie Bradley: I’ve always been pretty tall – going into my freshman year I was about 6’2”, 160-170 lbs; I was really skinny. That’s when I made it a point to really put some weight on, so the summer after my freshman year I was on a strict eating diet and had a personal trainer that helped me put on about 20 lbs. Ever since then I’ve kept the same eating habits and stayed consistent with my lifting schedule, and I’ve kept the weight on and built myself up some more.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Despite both roles involving throwing, lifting routines for football quarterbacks doe not always translate to increased production for a baseball pitcher. What are the differences for you in how you approach each sport in the gym?
Archie Bradley: As far as lifting goes, legs are the same for both sports; from everyone I’ve talked to, you can’t lift enough legs, so those workouts are the same. During football season I’ll do bench or dumbbells, but I use a trick I got from Wichita State where you fold a towel over the bar and then when you bench press you only go down as far as that towel goes before it touches your chest. Even with dumbbells I don’t go anywhere past my chest because those motions put a lot of pressure on your shoulders. As far biceps, I don’t even mess with that, but I’ll do reps for my back, shoulders, etc. Really the only thing I am very careful about is chest, because of the stress it can put on my shoulder.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: We obviously know about your baseball skills, but you’re also a highly regarded quarterback. How much of a role does playing football have in any baseball decision that you will make?
Archie Bradley: It’s kind of like a balancing act. I mean, I love baseball, but I love football just as much – it’s kind of like a tug-of-war, you know? I really couldn’t choose right now if I had to. Everyone just labels me off the bat as a baseball guy, which I can completely understand, but I’m really adamant about playing football, and it’s going to be one of those things where me and my family are going to sit down and talk about it, and hopefully make the right decision.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When was the first time you realized you could really do something career-wise with baseball?
Archie Bradley: For me it was weird because when I was little I was always a hitter. I was the kid in Little League who would win the homerun derby and hit a bunch in the games, and even my freshman year I was a hitter. I pitched too, but it wasn’t until I was going into my sophomore year and during my sophomore season that I really got a feel of how to pitch. You see the beginnings of a change, but you don’t really make much of them, so the summer after my sophomore year was when I really started to get the feeling of “man, I’m getting pretty good at this.” That was when I started to understand how I could make the ball move, how I could get people out, and really how to pitch, not just throw anymore. That was the point where I thought that I was starting to understand pitching, and I could probably make a living out of it.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Do you remember the first time you hit 90 MPH?
Archie Bradley: It was my freshman year, actually. I was pitching against Enid in the regional finals to go to State and I sat 90-94 MPH that game. That is the first time I remember it.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What drew you to OU over all your other choices – especially having another school with a strong baseball tradition in-state like the Cowboys?
Archie Bradley: The first part for me was, like I said before, playing two sports at a Division 1 level, and a bunch of schools wanted me for either straight football, or straight baseball. The main reason I chose Oklahoma was because the two coaches really communicated a lot about how I could play both sports at their school. Around June they called me and we were on the phone for about two hours talking about how it would work and how the whole schedule would be laid out, and I talked to my family about it and made my decision that night. Just the way they go about things – they’re about getting better, I like their weight program, they have a nutritionist – everything about the school. When I was on my official visit I felt at home, so it was really an easy decision for me.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Would you be playing quarterback for the Sooners?
Archie Bradley: Yes, that’s the plan!
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: And will you be playing two-way on the baseball team?
Archie Bradley: I don’t know. It’s one of those things where Coach Tadlock said they’re going to let me hit when I get over there, but my main focus is on the mound.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How much have you thought about the draft?
Archie Bradley: I think you need to think about it, but in the right way. There’s tons of pressure that comes with it, but there are so many things out there that you can’t control. The only thing you control in the draft is what you do on a daily basis, and you can either get better, or you can’t. Whether you have a good outing or a bad outing you need to think about it the same way – you put in your work the next day, get your run in, work on your pitching, and all those things. So I try to think about it in a positive way. What am I going to do today that’s going to make me a first rounder? What am I going to so today that’s going to make me the first pick overall? That’s the way I think about the draft.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: When you allow yourself to dream about professional baseball, what’s the image you get in your mind?
Archie Bradley: Honestly? The image I get is that when I’m done, retired from playing baseball, they’re going to say “he was the best to ever play at the pitching position.” If I do what I know I can do, and keep my consistent work ethic, I see myself having the ability to be mentioned with Nolan Ryan, Roy Halladay, and guys like that.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: How many teams have you heard from so far?
Archie Bradley: Basically every team. We didn’t do any meetings during football because I wanted to keep my focus there, but once football ended we’ve had about every team into the house.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Have you met with the Yankees?
Archie Bradley: Yes sir. I met with the Yankees about two weeks ago. They came into the house and we had a meeting for a couple of hours. I’ve been in pretty good contact with them so far.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Can you give me a detailed description of your arsenal?
Archie Bradley: Starting out, I throw a two-seam and a four-seam fastball. My two-seam will sit 93-95 MPH with some run and some sink on it. I’m starting to learn how to get that sink on it and get it to dive down. The four-seam I can bump up a bit – I hit 98 MPH this summer in New Mexico. Then we can move on to my changeup, which I’m not really sure how to explain because I don’t use a traditional grip. It’s something a scout showed me a while back and I’ve been tinkering with it to where I can get it to run both in and out. So far this year it’s been sitting 81-82 MPH, and it’s starting to work really well for me. For my money pitch I throw a knuckle curve, and just from what scouts tell me, it’s one of the dirtiest they’ve ever seen. It basically just falls right off the end of the table, and it will range from 82-85 MPH.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: It sounds like you’re throwing that spike curve really hard, like it’s a fastball out of your hand.
Archie Bradley: It’s a really weird pitch, I’ve only see a couple of other people throw it like this. I put my knuckle on the lace and I flick it out of my hand. When they throw a spike curveball most people get on the side of it; I stay right behind it and flick it out.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: So would you consider the curve your outpitch?
Archie Bradley: I think it’s the fastball. That’s the bread and butter, and it will be the bread and butter at any level. I think I can throw my fastball by anyone, not because I’m cocky or anything, but it’s just because I have confidence in my stuff.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: What is your outward personality on the mound? What would someone who came to watch you pitch see in terms of our outward expression?
Archie Bradley: I’m pretty level-headed. I mean, if I get a big strikeout I’ll give a little fist pump or something, but nothing over the top. Someone who was watching me pitch would see that I’m a fierce competitor, I’m not shy, I respect the game, and I know how to play it.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Being from Oklahoma, do you have any connection to the legends of the past like Warren Spahn and Mickey Mantle?
Archie Bradley: Yeah, it’s just something you kind of know when you’re growing up here and a true baseball fan. You can look at the people that have been from Oklahoma and made a name for their state, and I think Oklahoma baseball is on the rise and we’re kind of getting the feeling that we could be that next set of guys for everybody to talk about.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Without an MLB team in Oklahoma, who did you grow up rooting for?
Archie Bradley: My favorite team is the Atlanta Braves because my Grandma grew up watching the Braves on TBS so every time I’d go over to her house we’d watch them. I also played for Charlie O’Brien who won a World Series with the Braves, so they’ve kind of always just been my favorite team.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Let me guess – Chipper Jones is your favorite player?
Archie Bradley: [laughs] Yes, for the longest time until lately when I’ve started really getting into the pitching mode. It’s kind of switched since then.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Who are those pitchers it shifted towards?
Archie Bradley: Not necessarily in terms of mechanics, but in terms of the way they go about things, the way they pitch, and their work ethic, my favorite pitcher right now is Roy Halladay. I don’t know how you can go wrong with a guy like that. Everything you read about him, everything you hear, he’s the first guy in and the last to leave, he puts in a tremendous amount of work, and it obviously shows in the success he’s had.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If you could steal one pitch from anyone else in your draft class, whose pitch would it be, and why?
Archie Bradley: Hmm…I’d probably have to steal it from Dylan Bundy, take his slider from him. Every time I see him throw, the one pitch that consistently works is his slider. It’s so much different from a curveball, fastball, anything, and he just dominates people with it. So that’s the one pitch I’d take from someone.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: For this upcoming season what are your team goals, and then what are your individual goals?
Archie Bradley: First thing, as a team everyone’s goal is always to win a state championship, but with the talent we have on my high school team – we have almost everyone committed to a JUCO or D1 school – I have my sights set on us being ranked somewhere nationally. I feel like if we get out there and keep winning like we should, that we could end up somewhere near the top 10 in the nation by the end of the season. As far as me personally, my goal is to stay consistent with everything. Keep my velocity consistent – not a complete drop from the first inning to the seventh inning, consistently throw strikes, and keep my walks under 20.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: If the contract and situation are right, is playing professionally out of high school something that interests you, or are you just hellbent on going to OU to play two sports?
Archie Bradley: It’s kind of both, I mean my dream from when I was a little kid was to play professional baseball, but then when the whole Oklahoma thing came about it just kind of changed my perspective a little bit. It just a situation where I’m open to everything; I’m not closing any doors, I’m not putting all my eggs in any one basket, but I feel like if everything is right and the opportunity presents itself, playing pro ball is something that could definitely happen. I feel like I’m ready for it and I’m mature enough to handle it.
Kevin Levine-Flandrup: Being 18 years old, how do you deal with the pressure that comes along with these two amazing opportunities you have in front of you? How do you balance that pressure with just trying to be a normal high school teenager?
Archie Bradley: Oh yeah, I mean you run into it all the time, even something simple like doing this interview. Your teammates are always bugging you and joking around about it by saying “hey, big leagues!” but I think the biggest thing to remember is to just stay humble. Realize that you’re blessed, that not every person can do what you can do, and make sure every day you do something to get better both as a player and a person. If you do that everything will work out.