Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Two days after I wrote about the substantial number of injuries to fantasy-relevant starting pitchers this spring, another hurler fell victim to a serious affliction.
An MRI on Sunday revealed a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament of Arizona Diamondbacks left-hander Patrick Corbin and he'll likely have to undergo Tommy John surgery.
The injury will close the book on Corbin's 2014 season ... and open the one on Archie Bradley's major-league career.
Bradley is the No. 1 prospect in Arizona's system and ranks as the No. 1 pitching prospect and fifth-overall player on mlb.com's list of the top-100 prospects in baseball.
Before Corbin's injury, the Diamondbacks were unlikely to begin the season with Bradley in the rotation, but they may be forced to add him to the season- opening 25-man roster following the loss of their Opening Day starter.
The D-Backs are now in need of an ace, and the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Bradley profiles as a guy who can fill that void.
Arizona selected the 21-year-old, who committed to Oklahoma to play both football and baseball, out of high school with the seventh overall pick in the 2011 draft.
Armed with a mid-90s fastball and a plus curveball, Bradley has posted a 2.76 ERA and 318 strikeouts while giving up only 203 hits and 12 home runs in 290 minor-league innings. He went 14-5 with a 1.84 ERA and 162 strikeouts in 152 innings last season.
He's yet to compete above Double-A, but a lack of high-level experience didn't prevent Miami Marlins right-hander Jose Fernandez, who had never pitched above Single-A Advanced before 2013, from breezing through the majors as a rookie.
Bradley still has some control problems to work out -- he walked 4.74 batters per nine innings in the minors and has issued six free passes in 8 1/3 innings this spring -- but he has enough things working in his favor that we're willing to overlook them.
There's also the issue of Arizona's last two elite pitching prospects -- Trevor Bauer and Tyler Skaggs -- failing miserably in their first crack at the majors before being shipped out of the desert.
Fantasy owners who draft Bradley have to hope the problems of Bauer and Skaggs were more individual ones rather than indictments of the Diamondbacks' farm system.
Still, there really isn't much risk involved in taking Bradley, whose current ADP is 296.5, according to fantasypros.com's aggregate of Yahoo, ESPN, CBS, mockdraftcentral.com and nfbc.stats.com drafts.
We also won't have to wait very long for Bradley to contribute.
Prior to Corbin's injury, the Diamondbacks may have waited until June to call Bradley up in order to delay his arbitration clock. Now, there's a strong chance he'll be up within the first four weeks of the season, and that means fantasy owners can afford to spend a draft pick on him and keep him on the roster rather than attempting to rely on waiver-wire positioning to snag him when he's called up.
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