When watching Major League Baseball spring training games, those who are wearing numbers like 64, 74 and 99 usually are those wearing a MLB uniform only for the month of March and the guys who will be sent to the minors before opening day. Some show the front office and coaching staff that they could compete on the big club and some don’t.
The Boston Red Sox have a few players in Fort Myers, Fla. who could be on the opening day roster, but they most likely won’t. At the top of that list for the Red Sox is #74, also known as 22-year-old outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.
Drafted in the first round of the 2011 June Amateur Draft, Bradley has competed in six games this spring and has impressed everyone. Over 15 at bats, Bradley has eight hits, four runs and a stolen base. In addition to his batting performance, he has played 32 innings in the field without an error.
Bradley is turning heads in Fort Myers and with his ability and the performance so far this spring, you could make a case that he should be in the lineup come opening day. The issue is: where would he play? The Red Sox recently signed Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino to multi-year deals to play left and right field respectively. Manning center field is longtime Red Sox fan favorite Jacoby Ellsbury.
The Red Sox won’t bring up Bradley if he is going to be a fourth or fifth outfielder and only play every four or five games. Playing down in Pawtucket is what’s best for the outfielder, unless an injury bug hits the outfield or if the Red Sox trade Ellsbury, which is possible. Let Bradley grow in the minor leagues for another season or two and save his major league service for when he will be better used on the major league roster.
Bradley is the 32nd ranked prospect in the major leagues and second ranked on the Red Sox, according to Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com. The Richmond, Va. native is also ranked 31st by Baseball America.
Look for Bradley to join the major league roster at the roster expansion in the fall or come 2014. The only way he is called upon earlier is if a serious injury hits the Red Sox or make a big trade.
Justin Soderberg is a Boston Red Sox writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, ”Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google. To read more articles from Justin Soderberg, click here.