Once a week, Archie Bradley makes the 40-mile drive from Broken Arrow, Okla., to Muskogee to visit his paternal grandmother. They may eat a meal or simply spend time together and talk, although the subject will not be football. She never approved of that sport, something she does have to fret about that now the Bradley is knocking on the door of joining the Diamondbacks' starting rotation. The visits started with family dinners many years ago, and Bradley made sure to keep them up through high school and now into his professional career whenever possible. When D-backs manager Kirk Gibson called Bradley a month ago to say hello, Bradley was headed down the Muskogee turnpike to visit a woman who has beaten cancer and a stroke, who has outlived two husbands and who likes it just fine living on her own at age 92, thank you. You do not need to see the 17 pictures of Bradley affixed to her refrigerator to understand the connection. "She's the strongest woman I know, and we just have a really special bond," Bradley said. "We just try to take advantage of every moment we can spend with her. It's something I think is really important. "It's fun. I grew up a Braves fan, and she was a Braves fan as well. We'd sit around and watch Braves games on TBS, talk about Chipper (Jones) and Andruw (Jones) and all the old guys." So that is where Bradley, 21, gets it. Everyone in baseball can see the measureables -- the powerful frame, the smooth mechanics, the 99 mph fastball -- that have made Bradley one of the top prospects in baseball. The Diamondbacks also have seen the work ethic, the attention to detail and the pride of ownership that they believe set Bradley apart, fueling their belief that he will be a top-of-the-rotation starter for years to come. "Just a well-grounded young man," Gibson said. "He's just got a great foundation. He's got great values. That's part of the rest of the package when you look at a guy beyond what comes out of his hand. You think that is going to make a difference for his stability as far as consistency." General manager Kevin Towers saw the same two components in the first week of spring training, two and a half years after Bradley turned down a dual baseball/football scholarship from the University of Oklahoma to sign with the D-backs as the seventh player taken in the 2011 draft.
D-backs' Bradley rising fast but staying grounded
Fox Sports Arizona | Feb 14