Power puts Bradley among top 1B prospects
CLEVELAND -- The old adage in baseball is that power is something that develops over time. Bobby Bradley has had it since he broke into the professional ranks with the Indians.
Bradley's power displays have made him one of Cleveland's most intriguing prospects since he was drafted by the organization four years ago. Evaluators also see the potential in Bradley, who was ranked No. 6 on MLB Pipeline's updated rankings of the top 10 first-base prospects.
This spring, Bradley will get to showcase his skills for Indians manager Terry Francona and his coaching staff as a non-roster invitee to big league camp in Goodyear, Ariz. That will mark Bradley's first extended taste of the Major League environment -- aside from a dozen Cactus League games over the past three years. It will give Bradley a chance to be around veteran first basemen like Yonder Alonso and Edwin Encarnacion before returning to the Minors.
Bradley is the third Indians prospect to make the cut for MLB Pipeline's Top 10 positional lists, which are being updated ahead of the Jan. 27 unveiling of the preseason Top 100 prospects rankings. On Thursday, Francisco Mejia was named the No. 1 catching prospect in baseball. Earlier in the week, Triston McKenzie was named the No. 9 right-handed pitching prospect.
That trio represents a part of the future for an Indians club that will be looking for ways to extend its current window of success. The big league club has a solid young foundation with the likes of Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez and Bradley Zimmer, among others, and a crop of prospects who will be knocking on the door soon.
:: Top 10 Prospects by Position ::
Last season, Bradley, 21, turned in a .251/.331/.465 slash line in 131 games for Double-A Akron, hitting 23 home runs and 25 doubles with 89 RBIs. That came after the left-handed-swinging first baseman belted 29 homers with 102 RBIs in the previous season with Class A Advanced Lynchburg.
Bradley -- selected in the third round of the 2014 Draft -- has posted a .261/.352/.499 slash line (.851 OPS) over four seasons in the Indians' system. He has averaged one home run per 20.2 plate appearances, and has shown improvement with his plate discipline. Bradley's strikeout rate dropped to 22.9 percent in 2017 from 29.7 percent in '16 and 31.6 percent in '15.
This winter, the Indians lost Carlos Santana in free agency and brought in Alonso to take over at first base with a two-year contract that includes a team (or vesting) option for 2020. In all likelihood, Bradley will advance to Triple-A Columbus this season, with an eye on breaking into the Majors within the next two years. If he continues on his current trajectory, there is a chance that Bradley might find his home at first in Cleveland when Alonso's contract expires.