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Red Sox prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. has a “50-50″ chance to make the Opening Day roster

Mar 21, 2013, 8:14 PM EDT

Jackie Bradley Jr. AP

When spring training began, Red Sox prospect outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. was considered a pretty solid lock to begin the season in the minors. However, after a strong showing this spring and the injuries to David Ortiz and Stephen Drew, Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com hears that the Red Sox are wavering on that stance.

“When camp began, he had no shot — none — of making the team,” said a club source.

And now, the person was asked, with the regular-season opener just 11 days away?

“I’d say it’s 50-50,” said the source, who added that the  organization’s decision-makers are keeping an open mind on the subject and won’t make the call on Bradley until the middle of next week at the earliest.

Bradley, who turns 23 in April, is hitting .444 (20-for-45) with one home run, three doubles and five RBI in 20 games during Grapefruit League play. He has also drawn eight walks and struck out only five times. Of course, Baseball Reference’s handy new spring training stats indicate that he hasn’t faced the most advanced competition, but it’s hard not to be impressed by what he has done.

According to McAdam, if Bradley makes the Opening Day roster, the plan would be to use him everyday in left field and have Jonny Gomes fill in for Ortiz as the regular DH. If Ortiz is only going to miss the first three or four weeks of the season, the Red Sox have to ask themselves whether it’s worth starting Bradley’s arbitration clock, especially since he’s no lock to be better than their current internal options. Bradley only has 271 plate appearances above the High-A level and has never played a game in Triple-A. He has also never played a pro game in left field.

The best idea might be to send Bradley down and if Ortiz’s injury lingers and the other internal options struggle, call him up in mid-to-late April. Similar to the timing of Bryce Harper‘s major league debut last year, the Red Sox would guarantee themselves an extra year of team control just by waiting a couple of weeks.

  1. tfbuckfutter - Mar 21, 2013 at 8:34 PM

    I imagine the Sox are going to have a bunch of players this year who went into camp having no shot to make any ML roster.

    Jonny Gomes is their 2nd best option at DH and the season hasn’t started. Jesus.

    • dan1111 - Mar 22, 2013 at 2:35 AM

      Gomes’s career .790 OPS is well above the .754 mark that all MLB DH’s averaged last year.

      The Red Sox look like a mediocre team this season, but it is ridiculous to suggest their players would not make any other team’s roster. There are many teams with less talent than them.

  2. js20011041 - Mar 21, 2013 at 8:43 PM

    Going into this spring, I had very little faith in the abilities of this front office. Making this decision based on a small sample size against varied (to be kind) competition is not making me rethink my position.

    This isn’t a discussion that the Red Sox should be having. Nor should the Yankees or the Dodgers. Small market teams play eligibility games with prospects, not large market teams. The Red Sox should be playing their best players, period. Whether Bradley is one of their three best outfielders right now is up for discussion, but this shouldn’t be turned into a discussion about team control. If he is a productive player six years from now, the Red Sox will more than likely have already locked him up.

    • tfbuckfutter - Mar 21, 2013 at 8:49 PM

      It took awhile, but the Red Sox finally got what they wanted all along….

      To be the early 2000s Oakland Athletics.

      You know…minus a lot of marquee young talent (Bradley and a couple others not withstanding)…..but plus a whole shitload of Scott Hattebergs.

      • js20011041 - Mar 21, 2013 at 9:09 PM

        When they made the trade last year with the Dodgers, I thought it was great. They were going to get back to talent development and stay away from the big money free agents. Instead they decided to spend the same amount of money just spread around to more players. In concept, it spreads out the risk. By signing Dempster, Napoli, Victorino, and Gomes they are banking that not all of them will be busts the way that Crawford was and Lackey has been. The problem with that is that all of the players they signed carry a pretty substantial amount of risk.

        Dempster is a 35 year old pitcher coming off a year that was heavily aided by a low BABIP. Definitely expect some regression there.

        Napoli has been injury prone, and yes they got a break on his deal, but he’s also only had one really productive season in the majors.

        Victorino looked like he was shot last year. I’m hopeful that he’ll rebound but I’m certainly not expecting anything like his production from four or five years ago.

        Gomes is great if you’re platooning him but the Red Sox don’t really have anyone fill the other half of the platoon for one thing, and he’s also out of a job if Bradley is up and Ortiz is healthy.

    • 18thstreet - Mar 22, 2013 at 7:52 AM

      He’s a Scott Boras client. He’s gone the second he can.

  3. kiwicricket - Mar 21, 2013 at 9:25 PM

    As stated, the kid has never played a game Double-A. What is the point of ‘crossing your fingers’ for success this early on?

    The guy failing miserably if promoted would do more harm, than him honing his craft in the minors until being called up at some point later on. What is the rush?

    The Sox bought a bunch of free agent Poop. Let them play with it until it proves to be unremarkable and old.

  4. evanwins - Mar 21, 2013 at 9:47 PM

    50/50, eh? What’s that, either he will or he won’t?

    • jcmeyer10 - Mar 22, 2013 at 6:49 AM

      By god you’ve broken the code!

  5. hitdog042 - Mar 22, 2013 at 7:35 AM

    If doesn’t start his clock if they option him back down for 20 days. This year OR in 2014.

  6. hitdog042 - Mar 22, 2013 at 7:37 AM

    *it.

  7. hitdog042 - Mar 22, 2013 at 7:41 AM

    When they made the trade last year with the Dodgers, I thought it was great. They were going to get back to talent development and stay away from the big money free agents. Instead they decided to spend the same amount of money just spread around to more players. In concept, it spreads out the risk. By signing Dempster, Napoli, Victorino, and Gomes they are banking that not all of them will be busts the way that Crawford was and Lackey has been. The problem with that is that all of the players they signed carry a pretty substantial amount of risk.

    =====

    Napoli and Drew are on 1 year deals. Gomes only 2. Dumpster 2. My point is you spend when there’s players to spend on.

    And as Drews 9mm falls off, do does Ellsburys. They will have plenty of cash when the time is actually right.

  8. hitdog042 - Mar 22, 2013 at 8:21 AM

    Not always true on Boras. The Sox retained Varitek all those years. He was a Boras client. If Bradley loves Boston and he plays well the Sox would extend him. That’s a big if. We are talking 6 years down the road. For all we know he doesn’t turn into a star. Or he switches agents. So many things can happen in 5-6 years. Not worth even worrying about.

  9. hitdog042 - Mar 22, 2013 at 8:24 AM

    I imagine the Sox are going to have a bunch of players this year who went into camp having no shot to make any ML roster.

    Jonny Gomes is their 2nd best option at DH and the season hasn’t started. Jesus.

    —–

    Name one. Seriously. That’s a ridiculous statement. Some teams don’t have a decent DH at all. In fact most don’t.

    Are you suggesting Drew and Victorino would now be retired? Give me a break.

    Ps. Every team has a host of players with no chance of making the team. What’s your point exactly?

    • Joe - Mar 22, 2013 at 8:33 AM

      Jackie Bradley, Jr. would certainly have had a shot at, say, the Astros roster this spring.

      But maybe that doesn’t count as a ML roster.

  10. Joe - Mar 22, 2013 at 8:31 AM

    The saddest part about this article is the concept of Bradley playing left field in Fenway, where his defense would be absolutely wasted. I know Ellsbury is the starter in CF and he’s going to be there all year, but Bradley has a phenomenal glove.

    But Bradley will get to take over in his proper spot when Ellsbury hits FA next winter.

    And, as with hitdog, I’d say the only FA signing that I would question is Victorino.

    I think the Sox will have a decent team this year. If a lot of things break right with the pitching, they could contend. The upside is there.

  11. hitdog042 - Mar 22, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    I have the same reservations on Victorino Joe. Time will tell. He is starting to look better swinging the bat. Started off badly.

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