Bradley Delivers Healthy Returns For Red Sox

BOSTON—As the Red Sox prepared for the 2011 draft, some in the organization thought it made little sense to make Jackie Bradley a priority. After all, though the team had four of the first 40 picks, the first of those was the No. 19 overall selection, and the likelihood that Bradley would be available seemed remote.

Bradley was the reigning College World Series Most Outstanding Player for South Carolina and had been a Team USA star that summer. He was an incredible defensive center fielder with an advanced offensive approach.

But after dominant years as both a freshman and sophomore, he struggled as a junior. He hit .247/.346/.432, and a wrist injury robbed him of much of the season's last two months.

"A lot of the things that made him an advanced hitter," noted one evaluator, "he wasn't doing his junior year."

The Red Sox remained convinced that Bradley was still a player whose great instincts gave him outstanding defensive range and whose plate discipline, all-fields stroke and baserunning smarts would translate into offense.

So they took Bradley with the No. 40 overall pick last June and signed him to an above-slot bonus of $1.1 million. They pushed him to start his first full season at high Class A Salem, where he was batting .366/.488/.538 in 26 games with 11 steals in 12 tries. As for his defense?

"It's been incredible," said farm director Ben Crockett, noting Bradley's outstanding jumps, read, routes and above-average arm.

Offensively, observers rave about Bradley's ability to have quality at-bats while working deep counts. That trait, Bradley said, is no accident, as he spent the summer after his freshman year of high school refusing to swing until he reached two-strike counts.

"I ended up hitting .400 that summer," Bradley said. "I figured if you want to work on being a two-strike hitter, how about you get yourself to two strikes? Find out what kind of player you are."


• Righthander Alex Wilson moved from the rotation to the bullpen at Triple-A Pawtucket.

• The Red Sox promoted righthander Matt Barnes to Salem after he dominated at low Class A Greenville, allowing one run in 27 innings while striking out 42 and walking four.