When Diamondbacks' 21-year-old wunderkind pitcher Archie Bradley got into the slightest bit of trouble in grade school, middle school or even high school back in his home state of Oklahoma, a stern sort of principal named Pam Bradley – yes, his mom – would give him detention or even suspension.

“She's very tough,” Bradley recalled with a smile. “She made an example out of me.”

The tough parental/principal strategy worked. Bradley responded by being about as nice a kid as you can imagine. He smiles constantly, does whatever veteran catcher/locker neighbor Miguel Montero tells him to do and is very respectful of all his elders (i.e. when my pen ran out of ink in our interview, he offered to walk across the clubhouse to fetch me a new one).

For the first time this spring after early dominance, Bradley, the phenom righthander who's creating a Cactus League stir, hit a bit of a rocky patch on the mound Thursday. After showing great stuff in his bullpen session, he couldn't find the plate against the Mariners. And this time, the tough love came from no less a noted tough guy than Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson.

“Kind of a stinker,” Gibson called Bradley's outing, before mentioning a couple positive things about a performance about as different as all of his previous outings this spring. In those earlier virtuoso performances, Bradley dominated a stacked Rockies lineup, retired Albert Pujols twice (Bradley floated off the mound after that one) and struck out more than one out of every three bats he faced.

It's no wonder the Diamondbacks have been weighing strongly the possibility of promoting perhaps baseball's best pitching prospect all the way to the majors even though he's only thrown 21 games above A-ball. His one bad spring outing may hurt his chances a bit, but the thought remains very tempting for the Diamondbacks. This kid is a can't-miss prospect. But does that mean now?

“He's got a power package, a bulldog makeup, and a football mentality,” Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers raved about Bradley. “He's handled himself very well. You can sense it when you get around a special kid. For him, it's just a matter of when. Anytime we've challenged him, he's met the challenge.”

The majors would be a big one. Towers sensed Bradley was a bit bored in A-Ball as he improved starkly upon his ascension from a regular A-ball to high A-ball (Bradley denies he was bored, for the record), but he most certainly is engaged here. Understandably, he acted like a fan when Montero introduced him before the Angels game to the great Pujols. But that didn't stop him from retiring Pujols twice, once on a strikeout and once on a groundout.