Not to be totally blunt, and I know it’s early, but Jackie Bradley Jr. has to be in a Boston Red Sox uniform this year. All year.
Forget the back and forth trips on I95 to Pawtucket. Get the kid an place to live in Boston.
He has all the tools. Everyone knows that, but the “don’t push him too fast”, or “he needs more time to develop” arguments are old, and so are the Red Sox. They need an influx of young talent to mesh with the veterans. All that keeps being talked about is the 22-year old Bradley Jr. and his poise and maturity.
It’s time for everyone to see it come April in Boston.
He is a left-handed hitter who seems to have no fear of big league pitching. He’s hitting .571 so far this spring, which in the long run really is meaningless, yet that’s the best average right now on the Sox. Bradley Jr. is a center fielder, and is the logical replacement if Jacoby Ellsbury decides the free agency route after this season.
That said, Bradley Jr. can, and has played all outfield positions. His speed in the outfield gives him the ability to track down balls like we haven’t seen in Boston for a while, and has great jumps on batted balls to the outfield. He looks natural and effortless playing in the field. Why not keep him in Boston?
The concern would be at-bats for the young outfielder. Nobody is expecting him to take time away from Ellsbury, but it is not as if the Sox have been avoiding the injury bug in recent history. That not withstanding, with Bradley Jr.’s ability to play anywhere in the outfield, combined with his ability to hit both right and left handed pitching, why shouldn’t he be the fourth outfielder on this team?
Even the Sox new manager John Farrell, had this to say when recently asked about Bradley Jr.’s chances of making the big club: “He would be served well to get at-bats in the minor leagues before he comes up, but again he’s making a strong impression in camp.”
There you have it – before he comes up, not if. Let’s just keep him here, from opening day on, and if by some fluke of the baseball gods the Red Sox outfield is both healthy and productive, then let Jackie Bradley Jr. take a drive south to Pawtucket to get some at-bats. But, the odds are he’ll have the chance to get them in Fenway Park this spring.