30 Prospects in 30 Days: Jackie Bradley, Jr. – OF – Boston Red Sox
Jackie Bradley, Jr., performed very well in his first full professional season in 2012 after being drafted 40th overall in the 2011 Draft out of South Carolina. After only playing in 10 games in 2011, Bradley played 128 games last season – 67 in High-A ball and 61 in Double-A. At both levels Bradley displayed great plate discipline and an ability to hit for extra bases despite lacking top-of-the-light-pole power.
Bradley, who’ll turn 23 on April 19, is listed at 5’10” and 180 pounds. He is ranked in the top 40 prospects by Keith Law, Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com. His defense will be his main calling card in the majors, but he should be able to be an asset to your fantasy team once he gets the call to Yawkey Way. Bradley put up a .359/.480/.526 line at High-A Salem last year, a stat line that’s impressive but not so much when you realize he was 22 for most of the year and coming out of the SEC. But after being promoted to Double-A Portland, Bradley maintained a high OBP – .373 – and a respectable average and slugging percentage of .271 and .437, respectively. He also hit more home runs in AA – six compared to three in A ball – despite 105 fewer at-bats. He also stole 24 bases.
The first two major-league players who came to mind when initially thinking about Bradley were Jon Jay and Michael Brantley. Both Jay and Brantley are solid, everyday outfielders who won’t wow you in any one category but will contribute across the board. The following table shows each player’s minor league stats in a few important categories:
In fact, my assumptions were backed up by searching through the players’ minor-league stats. Bradley compares favorably to both players. While both Jay’s and Brantley’s numbers from the chart have taken a step back since they’ve reached the majors – Duh! – they’ve still been able to produce and help fantasy teams. Jay’s a career .300 hitter and stole 19 bases last year, while Brantley, in his first full season at age 25, hit .288 with 37 doubles and a .348 OBP last year.
After reading various scouting reports on Bradley, it seems like he’ll be more valuable in five-outfielder leagues, deeper standard leagues or leagues that count OBP, doubles, etc. You shouldn’t expect Bradley to hit more than 10 home runs, but double-digit steals should be easily attainable and so will a high average, high OBP and a good number of non-home run extra-base hits.
Bradley could debut in 2013 and is more than likely to be Boston’s Opening Day 2014 starter in center. Jacoby Ellsbury has been injury-prone throughout his career, so Bradley might make his way into the lineup due to an injury to Ellsbury this season. Or if the Red Sox are out of contention in late July, Ellsbury could be traded away, opening a spot for Bradley. For now, Bradley should just be a mid-season pickup for yearly leagues, but in dynasty and keeper leagues he could be worth a late-round selection based on your roster.