Bradley Emerges As Two-Way Threat For Red Sox





Best Player: The Red Sox farm system featured a pitcher who had the best ERA in the minors for much of the first half (Matt Barnes). Yet center fielder Jackie Bradley turned in an even more dominant performance. The 40th pick in the 2011 draft had a stunning first half with high Class A Salem. He led the Carolina League in average (.359) and doubles (26), led all of the minors in on-base percentage (.480) and put up a 1.006 OPS while playing spectacular defense.

The 22-year-old Bradley earned a promotion to Double-A Portland, the beginning of what could be a fast track to the majors, and was hitting .353 in his first 51 at-bats. "His baseball instincts are through the roof," one American League scout said. "He's a double-plus defender, tremendous off the bat, tremendous range, 7 arm (on the 2-8 scouting scale), great feel at the plate. His game speed plays way up. The guy's a future all-star, Gold Glover, leadoff skills, .300 hitter, (and) he's going to hit 10-15 (homers)."

Biggest Leap Forward: First baseman Travis Shaw entered 2012 without any hype. Questions about his defensive position and power potential left the Kent State product on the board in the ninth round of the 2011 draft.

Yet the 22-year-old put up a ridiculous first half for Salem that will demand greater notice. Through the all-star break, he was batting .335/.424/.591. After not hitting a homer in his first 27 games, he blasted 11 in his next 37 contests and another in the Cal League-Carolina League all-star game. "It's like bananas," Bradley said of Shaw's homers. "They come in bunches."

Biggest Disappointment: When they drafted Kolbrin Vitek in the first round in 2010, the Red Sox anticipated a player with terrific bat speed that would translate into power. That has yet to happen. Before landing on the disabled list in late May with an intercostal strain, Vitek was hitting just .252/.302/.338 for Double-A Portland with one home run and 10 walks (compared to 37 strikeouts) in 162 plate appearances. He had no steals.

Vitek still shows bat speed and raw power in batting practice, but that hasn't translated to games. His injury may have dampened his numbers before he landed on the DL, but evaluators expressed surprise that Vitek's pro development hasn't happened faster.

SOX YARNS

• Top 2012 draftee Deven Marrero hit his first pro homer on June 26, in his third game with short-season Lowell.

• Boston signed 18-year-old shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin out of Taiwan for $2.05 million. He was signed before July 2 and will not count against the team's 2012 international bonus pool.