Rookie outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. made his major league debut for the Boston Red Sox on Monday as the Sox opened the season at Yankee Stadium.
Despite facing one of the most dominating southpaws in the game in veteran CC Sabathia, Boston manager John Farrell opted to give Bradley, a left-handed hitter, the start in left field. It didn’t take long for Bradley to make his manager look like a wise man.
Bradley fell behind 0-2 to Sabathia with two on and one out in the second inning in New York Monday, then battled back to work a walk, laying off a pair of pitches that Sabathia has made a career getting far more seasoned hitters than Bradley to chase. Bradley didn’t wind up getting a hit in his big league debut, but he did reach base via three walks and knocked in a run to boot. According to ESPN, Bradley became the first player in big league history to draw three or more walks and drive in at least one run in his Major League debut. Seems kind of cherry-picked as far as the stats go I guess, but I suppose being the first player to do anything is kind of cool in itself.
Bradley’s discipline at the dish on Monday should come as little surprise. Last season, while spending time at High-A and Double-A, Bradley raked up a total of 87 walks while striking out 89 times. That kind of ratio is rare among the most seasoned of hitters and nearly unheard of by a player who was the 40th overall selection in the draft just two years ago.
It was that approach at the plate that helped Bradley post a .430 on base percentage in the minors last season and it contributed to the incredible Spring Training he put together to force his way onto the Boston roster and ultimately into the Opening Day lineup.
Bradley was rated the 32nd-best prospect coming into the season by this site and will turn 23 years old later this month. Boston probably would have liked to keep him in their farm system a bit longer, but the talent, combined with the maturity of both his game and his persona, mean he might just become a fixture in Boston’s outfield immediately and could be an early favorite for AL Rookie of the Year honors.
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