Bradford (Rangers' No. 26) turning heads at Triple-A

LHP named PCL Pitcher of the Month for April

May 9th, 2023

The Rangers’ farm is loaded with pitching prospects up and down the system, including three in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100. Through all the star power at the top, one name has almost shockingly shined brighter than the rest early this season: 2019 sixth-rounder .

The Rangers' No. 26 prospect per MLB Pipeline, Bradford was named both the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Month and the Rangers' Minor League Pitcher of the Month for April during his debut season with Triple-A Round Rock.

The southpaw went a perfect 5-0 and posted a 0.64 ERA in April. He allowed just 13 hits and issued only eight walks with 25 strikeouts. Bradford led the PCL in wins, ERA and WHIP (0.77). He was tied for second in innings (28 1/3) and sixth in strikeouts, while holding opponents to a .135 batting average against him.

Bradford did not allow a run through the first 12 1/3 frames of his Triple-A career as he became just the fifth pitcher in professional baseball to reach the five-win mark and the only pitcher in the Minors to accomplish the feat.

“I guess it’s a blessing to be able to win something like that, but doesn't really mean much, though,” Bradford said via a Zoom interview. “It's just a recognition. That was good, but it means more that we played some really good baseball in April as a team.”

Bradford, a Texas native and Baylor alum, enters his third year in the Rangers organization, though he didn’t pitch in 2020 due to the Minor League shutdown during the pandemic.

He ranked sixth in the Minors with a 6.1 K/BB ratio in his 2021 pro debut between High-A Hickory and Double-A Frisco. He struggled most of last season with the RoughRiders, but rallied to a 2.63 ERA in his final seven starts and tossed six shutout innings in the Texas League semifinals.

Bradford credited pitching coordinator Jordan Tiegs for his work with his pitch repertoire, after suggesting he add a cutter back in 2022. Now with a low-to-mid 90s fastball, a low-80s slider and a plus low-80s changeup to go along with the cutter, he has the confidence to trust in his stuff multiple times through a lineup.

“I think it was just understanding what makes me successful as a pitcher,” Bradford said of his late success in 2022. “Last year was my just second year of pro ball. And I still didn't know who I was, or what made me successful. So I think the second half of last year, I started understanding that if I can get to my glove side, with all my pitches, it helps everything play better. So that was really the big key.”

For general manager Chris Young, this early success in Triple-A for Bradford is just building off that 2022 season.

“It’s just a continuation of what he did in the second half of last year and his command of the fastball," said Young. "The way he's used his offspeed, attacking the strike zone, pitching the confidence, it's all been very good. I think at some point, he’s likely to be an option for us here, if and when we need an arm.

“The minor changes that our pitching group made -- Jordan Tiegs led the charge -- for Cody, I think have served him well last season. The way he's utilized his fastball and added a little cutter to be able to get in on righties, it's played very well, and certainly that momentum he built at the end of last season has carried into the beginning of this year.”

Other Minor League award winners for April:

Player of the Month: OF Evan Carter (No. 1)
Carter slashed .343/.500/.543 with four home runs and 20 RBIs, while reaching base in 17 of his 18 games in April with Double-A Frisco. He ranked among the Texas League leaders in walks (1st, 21), RBIs (4th, 20), OPS (5th, 1.043), home runs (T-8th, 4) and hits (T-9th, 24).

Reliever of the Month: LHP Grant Wolfram
Wolfram did not allow a runner to score in April, pitching 9 1/3 shutout innings over six relief appearances for Double-A Frisco. The left-hander limited opponents to a .097/.125/.129/.254 slash line with just one walk compared to 11 strikeouts.

Defender of the Month: INF Luisangel Acuña (No. 3)
Acuña made starts at shortstop (14), designated hitter (4) and second base (3) for Frisco last month, committing just two errors in 71 total chances, good for a .972 fielding percentage. His 12 double plays turned were tied for the most in the Texas League and his 53 assists ranked third. A natural shortstop, Acuña has been praised for his versatility since Spring Training, and should be able to contribute in both the infield and outfield if necessary.