Meet Red Sox Spring Training sensation Jackie Bradley Jr.
With just days left until the regular season begins, it appears more than likely that Jackie Bradley Jr. will be on the Red Sox roster.
The polish Bradley displays both at the plate and in the field has been impossible to ignore, and that’s not mentioning his .523 on-base percentage. It’s clear that he belongs on the team, whether he’s the Red Sox’ starter in left field or in center.
However, the most compelling reason not to put Bradley on the Opening Day roster is to prevent him from reaching six full seasons of service time by the end of the 2018 season. If the Sox send Bradley to Triple-A Pawtucket for the first nine games of the season, he wouldn’t be eligible for free agency until 2019.
If the Sox were still an assured playoff contender, maybe they would wait out those nine games, but after last year’s rough season, the team most likely feels a sense of urgency to win now.
And who better to start with than Bradley, who has succeeded quickly at every level of baseball he’s played?
Prior to attending college, Bradley attended Prince George High School in Prince George, Virginia where he was named to the 2008 Virginia AAA All-State team and listed as the 40th best Virginia-based baseball prospect for the 2008 Major League Baseball draft by Baseball America.
Bradley began his college career for the University of South Carolina in 2009 where he hit .349 with 69 runs in 63 games and posted a slugging percentage of .537.
In 2010, Bradley hit .368 with 13 home runs, 56 runs scored and 60 RBI in 67 games. He went 10-for-29 at the plate in the 2010 College World Series and was named the Most Outstanding Player.
In 2011, Bradley was selected 40th overall by the Boston Red Sox in the supplemental first round of the Major League Baseball Draft.
He made his professional debut on August 23, 2011 with the Class-A Short Season Lowell Spinners, hitting .250 in 10 games split between the Spinners and Single-A Greenville Drive.
Bradley was awarded Minor League Defensive Player of the Year by the Red Sox organization for the 2012 season. He hit .315 with 55 extra-base hits, 87 walks, and 63 RBIs in 128 games.
With Bradley’s rookie achievements, there’s no doubt that Bradley can handle the pressure of playing in the major league. Whether he can be the boost the Red Sox will need this year remains a question.