27 Outs Baseball Network

Bobby Bradley Shaping Up To Be Cleveland’s Future At First Base

Photos by Tony Capobianco

The Cleveland Indians have a slugger waiting in the wings, third ranked prospect Bobby Bradley. Bradley is currently playing first base for their Double-A affiliate, the Akron Rubberducks of the Eastern League, and is on pace for his third straight season of at least 25 home runs and 90 RBI.

“He’s been really swinging the bat well here of late,” RubberDucks manager Mark Budzinski told MiLB.com. “It’s 100 percent attributable to his daily routine and the time he spends with our hitting coaches, Johnny Narron and Omir Santos, and working on staying to the middle of the field. He’s on time, ready to hit and taking some good passes.”

Bradley has been a slugger throughout his Minor League career. Drafted out of high school in the third round of the 2014 MLB Draft, Bradley kicked his pro career off by capturing the Rookie-level Arizona League’s Triple Crown with a .361 batting average, eight home runs and 50 RBIs through 39 games. His two Single-A seasons with the Lake County Captains in 2015 and Lynchburg Hillcats totaled in 56 home runs and 194 RBIs.

He won the Carolina League MVP award last year for setting career highs in home runs (29) and RBIs (102). He shows plus raw power to all fields during games thanks to his combination of strength, bat speed, and natural hitting ability. Bradley, a career .265/.361/.513 hitter through three-plus Minor League seasons and three different levels, sported a .300/.388/.589 line during June. As of now in July, he has more RBIs than games played and Budzinski believes Bradley’s bat simply goes how the weather goes.

“Jumping levels every year is not easy and you have to make adjustments,” Budzinski said. “[Bradley] continues to do that at every level he goes to.”

Bradley’s robust power could have him hitting in the middle of Cleveland’s lineup in the coming years. However, Carlos Santana’s standing in first base and the acquisition of Edwin Encarnación at designated hitter creates a future logjam for Bradley, who can be MLB ready by 2019. That may leave him as a trade piece for a key acquisition either before the mid-season trade deadline or during the off-season to clear his path to the big leagues.

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