5. Bobby Bradley – First Baseman
Born: 05/29/1996 – Height: 6’1” – Weight: 225 – Bats: Left – Throws: Right
Facts & Info: Bradley was selected by the Indians in the 3rd round of the 2014 Draft out of Harrison Central High School (MS). He had a strong commitment to attend and play baseball at LSU but the Indians got him to pass on school and signed him to a $912,000 signing bonus. Over his four-year high school career and 84 games he batted .442 (89-for-300) with 23 HR and 91 RBI in 84 games. He attended the same high school as former Indians minor league pitching coach Greg Hibbard and former big league outfielder Matt Lawton – who he actually works out with at home since they both reside in Gulfport. In 2014 he was named the Arizona League MVP after hitting for the Triple Crown and leading the league in just about every offensive category and followed that up with an MVP-caliber season at Low-A Lake County in 2015 where he finished in the top 10 in almost every offensive category as well. Last season he was named the Carolina League’s Most Valuable Player after he finished 4th in the league in games (131), 4th in runs (82), 1st in home runs (29), 1st in RBI (102), 3rd in total bases (226), 3rd in extra base hits (53), 1st in walks (75), 1st in intentional walks (8), 2nd in strikeouts (170), 5th in slugging percentage (.466), 7th in OPS (.810) and 1st in HR/AB ratio (1/16.72). His 100 RBI season was the first time a Carolina League player had done it since Potomac’s Tyler Moore did it in 2010. He also finished 2nd in the organization in home runs (29) and 1st in RBI (102).
Offense: Bradley is an impressive physical specimen when he steps into the batter’s box and is someone who strikes fear into opposing pitchers with his amazing size, great strength and ability to impact the baseball and hit it a long way. He’s still very young but already as big as an NFL tight end and just continues to get bigger and stronger every season. He shows natural power that is easy plus-plus with some incredible bat speed and strength that allows him to hit the ball out of the ballpark to all fields and projects him as a perennial 30+ home run hitter in the big leagues. He displays an advanced approach for his age where he is very patient, controls the strike zone well and shows a willingness to work counts for his pitch. While there is some swing and miss, he does a good job of avoiding chase and has some good developing pitch recognition skills. His hit tool is developing and is solid average with the chance to be above average because of his good feel for hitting, good hand-eye coordination and knack for barreling up balls. He has a short, compact swing that he repeats well and makes consistent, hard contact, and shows the ability to really lock in and focus in high pressure situations by remaining calm and his overall understanding of what he needs to do to drive a run home.
Defense: Bradley has some good athleticism and mobility for a player his size which has helped him adapt well to first base. He will never be mistaken for a Gold Glove defender and he is still a work in progress there, but he has really made some impressive strides since moving from catcher to first base shortly after he was drafted. He has continued to improve each season at first base by learning the position and gaining some comfort at it where he has become an adequate defender with the potential to be solid average and maybe even a tick above average. His positioning has improved and he shows some average footwork around the bag along with some solid lateral movements to his left and right. He has become solid at picking low throws in the dirt and has a solid average throwing arm.
Speed & Intangibles: Bradley is a below average runner, though moves well and shows some surprising quickness and athleticism for a player his size. He has an extraordinary work ethic and really prepares himself well for games thanks to his strong routines, advanced maturity and commitment to his work. He really does a nice job of staying in the moment with an even-keeled approach to not get too high on the highs or too low on the lows and just maintains a good steady approach day in and day out. One of the things the Indians really like about him is how humble he is and how you would never know he is a top prospect or bigtime performer because of the way he doesn’t have a sense of entitlement and does not let success go to his head. His commitment and strong aptitude combined with a willingness to be coached and a desire to get better have allowed him to make a lot of strides since turning pro. He is a plus makeup guy who is a quiet leader and a great teammate.
Focus: Last season was the third straight big offensive year for Bradley and one where he showcased some legit Major League impact power which has even more potential than he has already shown. The feeling is as he continues to mature both physically and mentally as a player that he will learn to tap into it a lot more and he has the potential to be an annual 35-40+ homer a year player in the big leagues. The key of course is his plate discipline. The good thing is he is advanced for his age where he is patient and will wait for a good pitch, but the bad thing is he has a tendency to be too patient where he lets hittable pitches go by early in the count which puts him behind in the count and results in a more defensive approach where he disconnects from his power and ends up expanding the zone a little more. The Indians love the patient approach and feel it is the building block to a very good approach that should translate as he continues to move up the minor league ladder and into the big leagues – they just want to see him be a little more aggressive early in the count which should help lower that strikeout rate, increase the power output and also raise the batting average some. It is all about finding that balance between patience and aggression. The Indians have continued to work with him on using a middle of the field approach to get him from pulling off pitches too much and saw some strides in that area last season. They also made a few adjustments with his swing by matching up his lower half with where his hands are setup. He had a tendency to get too wide in the box to where it wasn’t giving his hands any room to be able to get up and loaded, but now his feet are in a more athletic position to where it matches up his hands which gives him room to load and be quicker to the ball. Defensively, it is all about smoothening out some of the rough edges and getting him a little quicker with his feet. He just needs to develop more feel for the position, improve his footwork, be a more consistent fielder and get a little softer with his hands.
Future: Bradley was one of the most feared hitters in the lower levels of the minors the last three years as he basically put up three MVP caliber seasons in a row and just dominated at every stop of the minor league circuit he has been through to date. Last season, of his 114 hits he has ripped 53 of them for extra bases and had an excellent .231 isolated power percentage. He had a nice 13.1 BB% but the big glaring hole in his game is the inconsistency with the bat and penchant for high strikeout totals (29.7 K%), something he is working on to refine to really solidify himself as a Major League option in the next year or two for the Indians. At this point, there is little doubt that Bradley is viewed as the Indians first baseman of the future. While Nellie Rodriguez may have a say in that, Bradley just has much bigger upside both offensively and defensively at this point and is already outperforming Rodriguez in some key areas at a younger age. Bradley is the better prospect at the moment and one of the best first base prospects in all of baseball and one that Indians fans should be excited about seeing at some point in 2018 if all goes well for him between now and then. He is a future franchise Major League first baseman in the making and could be a big part of the middle of the Indians lineup for a long time. Even with the low batting average and the solid approach, the big draw and moneymaker for him continues to be his power and production ability. The ability to hit for big power and do so consistently is a rare commodity in the game and something the Indians are very excited to have in their system. He now holds a .249 ISO over his three seasons in the organization, which is some big impact power and something that will be put to the test in the more spacious Canal Park at Double-A Akron where he will open the season.
Ranking History: #6 (2016), #6 (2015)