Bradley making strong impression in camp
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Without question, Jackie Bradley Jr. has been turning heads at Red Sox camp.
It seems like every time he is on the field -- be it with the bat, his glove or his legs -- Bradley is making something happen. Bradley started Tuesday's game against the Cardinals by making what looked like an effortless catch against the wall in center field. Batting in the leadoff spot, Bradley started Boston's first with an infield hit.
A reporter asked Red Sox manager John Farrell the following question on Tuesday morning: "Is it completely far-fetched that he could make the team?"
Though it still seems likely Bradley, who is ranked the No. 2 prospect in the Red Sox's farm system by MLB.com, will open the season at Triple-A, Farrell did not dismiss the notion entirely.
"Good question," Farrell said. "I guess the best way to answer that is coming into camp, we didn't have that as a strong possibility. We're four games into the game schedule, and he could still be served well by getting more at-bats in the Minor Leagues before he comes up, but again, he's making a very strong impression in camp."
As players like Bryce Harper and Mike Trout have proved in recent years, rushing a prospect to the Majors sometimes has no drawback.
How will the Red Sox know when a top prospect like Bradley -- the 40th overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft -- is ready for the Majors?
"Well, the player tells you and a lot of the little things inside of a game. Defensively, he's very accomplished, as we're talking about Jackie," Farrell said. "But again, it's going to be how he fares against quality pitching as we go through camp. And then ultimately you're talking about the person, and more so from the maturity element, maturity factor, is he going to handle some distractions and some failures? And that is a check box along the way here as we've gotten to know him."
Bradley's position is center field, but the Red Sox don't have an opening there just yet. Jacoby Ellsbury is under contract for one more season.
Boston does have playing time available in left field, where Jonny Gomes will start against all lefties and some righties.
Farrell said that Bradley will get some time in right field when Shane Victorino departs on Sunday for the World Baseball Classic.