By The Baseball Beginnings Guy
March 21, 2011
The first time I saw Jackie Bradley Jr. was after his freshman year at South Carolina while he was playing for Hyannis on the Cape. At the time, he was still growing, filling and leaning out. You could tell he was strong and athletic, and the first tool I could see was the arm, which really stood out. The next tool was the speed. So right there, he was a two-tool guy, and that gets him on my radar. I only saw a few at-bats that summer and he was struggling a little bit on the Cape, as many freshmen do. But I couldn’t take away the bat speed and I felt that he would have more lift in his swing as he got stronger and fully learned to use his hands. This is what scouting is. When you see them young, the tools don’t lie, but sometimes they hide. Sometimes they hide because the player is out of position and not being used well and sometimes they hide because their bodies have to catch up to what they’re becoming. If you scout performance, and most people in all walks of baseball do, you are going to be wrong more times than you are right. You will be late on players.
The next time I saw Bradley was on TV all of last spring during the College World Series, and to say the least, he came a long way fast. The original tools I saw the previous summer – those which you cannot give a guy, the speed and the arm, were already there. But this time, so was the bat. But what was the difference between Bradley ’09 and Bradley ’10 and now Bradley ’11? From a distance, Jackie always had the bat speed, but now he has a more comfortable, confident and consistent approach. He’s a spray hitter and his power is gear pull. I anticipate that in the coming years you’ll start to see a guy who probably has about 20 home run power in the big leagues. He might not get that every year and maybe he won’t get there two years after the draft, but he’s going to be in the neighborhood. The best tool is going to be the bat and the speed. His defense and arm will keep him contributing every day. In this draft, he’s one of the legit five-tool players. He’s come a long way from that strikeout I saw back in Orleans, but to be good at this, you have to see the baby steps before you see them become full-fledged dudes.
Jackie Bradley, OF
Bats: L, Throws: R
Games Seen 1, Innings: 9 in 2009 (And also lots of TV games)
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Average height and build, athletic features and lean muscle throughout, strong hands, wrists, and forearms.
ABILITIES: Plus, plus left-handed bat speed with ability to spray ball to all fields with authority and lift balls for pull and gap power. Good feel for plate approach while remaining aggressive. Plus, left-handed speed, good first step, legit base-running threat. Solid arm strength and accuracy, enough to contain running game.
WEAKNESSES: Just needed to play everyday when I saw him. Made several corrections. Doesn’t have a below-average tool.
SUMMARY: Complete everyday ML OF with above-average all-around skills.
GRADES: H: 5/7, P: 4/5, R: 7/7, A: 5/5, F: 7/7 = OFP range: 60-62