Good news for Indians’ fans, as Bobby Bradley debuts for the Tribe.
The Columbus Clippers, the AAA affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, were without their usual first baseman on June 22nd. Indians fans took notice in a hurry. This first baseman, of course, was none other than Bobby Bradley.
The 23-year-old power hitter from Gulfport, Mississippi, was absolutely electric in the minor leagues. He hit .292 in Columbus, with a .359 slugging percentage and .997 OPS. Bradley also belted 24 home runs, the most in the International League. Watching Bradley send baseballs over the fence of Huntington Park left Indians fans wondering: Why is this guy not doing this at Progressive Field in Cleveland?
Questions about Bradley’s defense still follow him. The Indians already love the defense of Carlos Santana. Bradley also had 91 strikeouts, 5th worst in the IL. Push eventually came to shove and Bradley was called up to make his MLB debut on June 23rd against the Detroit Tigers. I was able to watch the game and all of his at-bats and wanted to share some thoughts on the kid’s debut.
Fun Fact: Bradley’s parents were in Columbus already this weekend to see him play, so they were able to make the drive up on Sunday to Cleveland to see his debut! Pretty cool stuff.
Bobby Bradley Debuts: Instant Impact
Bradley made the start at first base and hit seventh in the lineup, as his debut was off to a hot start. In the bottom of the 2nd with two runners on-base, he sent a towering drive down the left-field line that resulted in an RBI ground-rule double. Tiger left fielder Christin Stewart (who had a tough weekend in Cleveland) probably could have caught the ball, but it was still good to see Bradley drive in a run and make solid contact.
His defense was also put to the test almost right away. Detroit first baseman Brandon Dixon sent a high foul ball towards his counterpart Bradley, who made a nice over the shoulder catch in some tough sun.
As mentioned, one of the larger concerns around Bradley is his strikeout numbers. With that in mind, I wanted to see his plate approach in his first time against big league pitching.
Bradley saw only two pitches in his first RBI plate appearance, with his second at-bat ending in a first-pitch line out back to the pitcher. Tough to criticize much here since he made solid contact with some elevated pitches in the zone.
His third at-bat was probably the worst, a four-pitch strikeout. He stared at an inside curveball before chasing three outside sliders and taking a seat. This is what the Indians might have to live with in Bradley, especially early on.
He ended the day with a five-pitch walk. This was interesting because he got a 3-0 fastball right in his wheelhouse, but ended up taking. I would assume he won’t have the green light in these situations initially in Cleveland.
Indians manager Terry Francona has already said he doesn’t want Bradley as the every-day designated hitter. This presents a dilemma with solidified first baseman Carlos Santana ahead of him on the depth chart.
Francona hasn’t said what the long-term plan for Bradley is in the field. I doubt he takes the starting Santana away from first base, who currently sits second in All-Star voting for American League first baseman.
It’s unclear what the future holds for Bobby Bradley in Cleveland, but one thing is for sure. The Indians will have some much-needed juice in that lineup.
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