Jobu is back with the Rookie Spotlight Series. This time, meet Boston’s Jackie Bradley, Jr.
Jerry Ballgame has spent so much time talking about this guy the last couple of weeks that I had to profile him. There’s not a lot for Sox fans to be happy about these days, so any time someone’s bringing intrigue and smiles to the fan base, I fee like I have to shed some light on the mystery. Jobu’s Rum readers, meet Jackie Bradley, Jr.
All kidding aside, I first heard about Bradley last season. The Richmond, VA native and former University of South Carolina Gamecock was climbing through the Boston system and being talked about as the possible future center fielder for the big league club. Conisdering that the Sox will probably end up trading Jacoby Ellsbury at the deadline this year, a good start in AAA would probably have had Bradley in Boston by August. I didn’t think the kid would show enough to make the roster out of Spring Training, though.
The Red Sox needed a little luck to land Bradley with the 40th pick of the first round in 2011. Bradley was thought to be a mid-to-high first-rounder, but an off season his senior year and a wrist injury dropped his stock enough that the Sox could get him in the supplemental first round. He struggled at his first couple of stops in the Red Sox system in 2011, but exploded out of the gate once he started 2012 in Salem (Boston’s A+ level club). Bradley hit .359/.480/.526 in 67 games and was called up to AA Portland for another 61 games, where he hit .271/.373/.437. For the year, he ended up with 42 doubles, 4 triples, 9 homers, 63 RBI and 24 steals. Not bad for his first real full season at the pro level.
He came to camp this spring on a mission to impress. Maybe he didn’t think he would make the team, but I’m sure the Sox wanted to get a good look at one of their better prospects. All he’s done is hit so far this spring, putting up a slash line of .444/.523/.667 with a couple of homers and 11 RBI. You can see one of his dingers in the video above. He has more than impressed the Sox, who may be left with no choice but to bring Bradley to Boston and stick him in the every day lineup.
While Ellsbury is going to start in center and Shane Victorino will probably man one of the corners, all Bradley really has to do is prove that he’s worth more than Daniel Nava, Mike Carp (who might get a lot of time at first base), Ryan Sweeney and Ryan Kalish… I think he’s got that covered. Bradley’s hitting this Spring has been an eye opener. Everyone knew he was a plus-plus defender with great range, speed and a strong throwing arm, but if he can swing the bat too, the decision to carry him against the Yankees on opening day should be an easy one. At least Jerry will have something positive to look forward to this season from his team.
Featured image courtesy of: Mark LoMoglio/Icon SMI
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