By Jeff Louderback
Jackie Bradley projects to be a key part of the Red Sox lineup for several seasons, and the soon-to-be 23-year-old outfielder has shown glimpses of just how exceptional he can play, yet it is time to option him to Triple-A Pawtucket and let him continue his development.
After an 0-for-2 performance on Thursday against Baltimore, Bradley is 3-for-25 (.120) and is clearly struggling to handle inside pitches. Because of six walks, he has a .33 on-base percentage, and he has made multiple outstanding plays in the outfield, yet the supplemental first rounder out of the University of South Carolina in 2011 clearly needs more seasoning in the minors. He has yet to make his Triple-A debut.
Since David Ortiz will likely not be ready to rejoin the Red Sox until April 19 against Kansas City, the Red Sox could call up a rookie like Bryce Brentz or Jeremy Hazelbaker until the DH is ready. They could also bring up a versatile infielder like Brock Holt since Mike Carp and Daniel Nava can play left field, where Bradley is currently stationed.
Summoning Holt, who can also play the outfield if needed, would make more sense than Brentz or Hazelbaker because those prospects have yet to make their Major League debut while Holt has big league experience.
Bradley’s short stint with the Red Sox will benefit him for the long term. He is a superb defensive outfielder, features an advanced and patient plate approach, has a veteran’s poise and doesn’t lack confidence. Regular season pitching, though, is more advanced than spring training pitching. After regular at-bats with the PawSox, he will be ready to return to the parent club at some point in 2013.