Last season, Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell surprised a lot of people by placing rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. on the 25 man roster after Spring Training. After a poor start to his career in 2013, Bradley is hoping he can bounce back and have a much better season his second year in the majors.
Last spring, Bradley hit .419 in 28 games and became the first Red Sox player to skip Triple-A and start Opening Day in the majors since Shea Hillenbrand in 2001. After 12 games with the Red Sox, he hit .097 and was demoted to Triple-A to make room for David Ortiz. Bradley did return to the Red Sox during varies times last season, but he only hit .189 with three home runs and 10 RBIs in 37 games.
With the departure of Jacoby Ellsbury, the expectations for Bradley to perform are greater than last season. In 80 games last season with the Pawtucket Red Sox, he hit .275 with 10 homers, 35 RBIs, and 7 steals. Not necessarily, breathtaking stats, but Bradley is highly viewed as one of the best young baseball prospects.
Baseball America and MLB.com both named Bradley in their top 50 prospects list. The 23-year-old was selected 40th overall by the Red Sox in the 2011 supplemental draft.
Over the offseason, the Red Sox added Grady Sizemore, who was a former All-Star before his career was derailed by injuries. He hasn’t played a game at any level since September 2011, so he isn’t expected to challenge Bradley for the starting centerfield position. If Sizemore can show the Red Sox he can return anywhere close to the player he once was, he could provide competition for Bradley.
No one is expecting Bradley to replace all the production Ellsbury had in the Red Sox lineup. If his numbers are similar to the ones he posted in Pawtucket, Sox fans will take it.