When it comes to Major League Baseball prospects, the week before Opening Day is usually not a happy one as this is the time when they receiver their tickets back to minor league game, ranging from Single-A all the way to Triple-A. We saw this exact result when it came to buzzword prospects around the game such as Jurickson Profar, Zack Wheeler, Travid D'Arnaud, Wil Myers, and Yasiel Puig this week as all were sent back to the farm despite in some cases putting up some very impressive stats. Some guys however broke through such as St. Louis Cardinals SP Shelby Miller who won the fifth starter's spot in the team's rotation. Than there is the case of Boston Red Sox 23-year-old outfielder Jackie Bradley who according to reports will in fact make the team out of camp after being nothing but an afterthought when he first reported to Florida back in February. Desperate for some offense, the Red Sox couldn't ignore Bradley's very hot spring where, going into Friday's games, he was hitting an extremely good .444 with 2 home runs and 2 stolen bases. Bradley showcased classic leadoff skills during his time with the team this spring and he ultimately forced the team to take him north for Monday's opener against the New York Yankees. With that said, let's take a closer look at the previously unknown Bradley in order to try and nail down what he could provide his fantasy baseball owners this season.
Looking at the Bradley profile, he completely screams out "leadoff hitter." Blessed with a keen eye at the plate, Bradley takes walks and waits for his pitch which results in a .300-plus average which he has showcased so far. Another requirement of a leadoff hitter is to have speed which Bradley does, although it is not extreme like a Brett Gardner. Bradley stole 24 bases at two minor league levels last season and that part of his game figures to be a major point of his fantasy baseball haul. Finally when it comes to power, Bradley has still yet to fill into his frame and he hit only 9 home runs last season on the farm. However he has driven the ball very impressively in camp and already has the two home runs.
Looking at what Bradley could contribute in fantasy baseball terms this season is a bit tricky however. Bradley would see optimal value in the leadoff spot but Jacoby Ellsbury has that sewn up. Count on Bradley beginning the season out of the number 9 spot so as not to put too much pressure on him. Hitting ninth of course will cap his stolen base and run potential a bit but again using the Gardner example, he was still able to steal 40-plus bases hitting in that slot for the Yankees the last few seasons. Also as far as the pop is concerned, Bradley could get close to the 10 home run mark and anything more would be a bonus. He still needs to add strength and fill into his body physically. Ultimately he reminds me a bit of Denard Span who does a lot of things well but not great. However the ceiling Bradley presents makes him well worth an investment.