Sent down, prospect Bradley leaves impression

Slugging first baseman dropped weight during offseason, hit well in Spring Training

March 12th, 2018

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians manager Terry Francona was so excited when walked into his office early in Spring Training that he could not stop the complimentary curse words from flying. The promising first-base prospect arrived looking like a new person after shedding dozens of pounds.

"He was a real highlight for us," Francona said on Monday morning.

Bradley was included in the Indians' latest round of spring roster reductions -- along with top prospect , outfielder and six others -- but the move was not unexpected. In fact, Francona said the energy during that meeting at the outset of Spring Training was still there during Monday's conversation with Bradley, who was reassigned to Minor League camp.

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Bradley blew away the Indians' staff with his offseason training, did well in soaking up information in his first big league camp and produced in the batter's box to the tune of a .391 average in his 23 Cactus League at-bats. The 21-year-old Bradley arrived to Spring Training knowing that a trip back to the Minors was coming, so the message on Monday was to just stay on his current path.

"There are some send-downs that, quite honestly, get tough," Francona said. "The guys, this is the way they make their living. But, for Bobby, I think it was anything but that. We just reinforced the things we talked about. And I reminded him that, 'You're [21] years old. You haven't even been to Triple-A yet. Enjoy seeing how good you can be.'"

Earlier this spring, Bradley smiled when told of Francona's excitement level over the young first baseman.

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"It's an amazing feeling just to know that the hard work and dedication is being noticed," Bradley said. "Words can't describe how good that feels."

Bradley -- ranked as the Indians' No. 3 prospect and the 6th-best first-base prospect in baseball, per MLB Pipeline -- has belted 87 home runs in his 411 Minor League games with Cleveland. The left-handed hitter was selected by Cleveland in the third round of the 2014 MLB Draft and power has always been his calling card. Last year, Bradley had 23 homers, 51 extra-base hits and a .465 slugging percentage in 131 games with Double-A Akron.

Over the offseason, Bradley wanted to get into better shape to help improve other facets of his game and to maintain his energy over the course of a full season. He restructured his diet, attended the Indians' strength camps in Arizona -- after playing in the Arizona Fall League with Glendale -- and found another fitness routine that helped him drop nearly 30 pounds when it was all said and done.

"Me and my fiancee at the time just sat down and she started doing Orangetheory [fitness]," Bradley said. "She dragged me to a class kicking and screaming. I didn't want to go. I ended up liking it. It was super-high-intensity interval training. We did that four times a week."

Bradley said he has been focusing on strength training since shedding the weight, because he does not want to lose any of his signature power. Francona said the changed Bradley made were noticeable on the field this spring, adding to the organization's excitement about the first baseman.

"I thought it was outstanding," Francona said. "It's nice when a kid works as hard as he does and, I know it's limited at-bats, but he really swung the bat really well. It's kind of nice when guys see results, or see what it can do to their game. I think his energy's better. His defense is better. His bat speed. It looks like it's just easier for him to do things physically."