At 22-years-young Boston Red Sox prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. has made a strong case to head north with the club and fantasy baseball owners should take notice. “The Legend of Jackie Bradley” is a trending topic in Boston and has begun to sweet through Red Sox nation as the season approaches. In 65 spring training plate appearances, Bradley has reached base an astounding 32 times.
Those who are unfamiliar with Bradley may be surprised by his production this spring but his success is anything but accidental. Bradley is regarded as the second best prospect in the Boston organization but his arrival to the majors wasn’t expected until late in the season. However, his .444 average and 10 RBIs may have forced the hand of the Boston front office.
Boston made Bradley the 40th overall selection in the 2011 amateur draft, which he then followed up with a smooth transition to professional baseball, hitting .311 over his first 138 games. A 5’10”, 180 lb frame usually illustrates a mediocre power hitter but Bradley has pop. His nine homers last season indicate a developing power hitter but his strength may always reside in the gaps. Bradley had 55 extra-base hits in 128 games across single-A advanced and double-A last season.
It would seem that all of the Boston injuries make Bradley a shoe-in to make the big league club on opening day but the situation is more complicated than that. Bradley could be “Super Two” eligible if he makes the opening day roster which would subject him to an extra year of arbitration. Many teams are hesitant about exposing themselves to additional finances when they can be avoided but if Boston is serious about competing in a tough AL East, they will make serious considerations about Bradley in left field.
If he continues hitting through the end of spring training, there is a strong possibility that Bradley will indeed be an opening day starter. His initial fantasy value will be dictated by his playing time and the length of his stint in the majors but his long-term value is great. Bradley could surprise people with his power with the short dimensions to right field in Fenway Park. Fantasy owners could choose to take a late-round flier on Bradley or add him in free agency once he makes the roster.