The Bobby Bradley Show Finally Reaches Cleveland

The Indians, who are near the bottom of the American League in home runs, have recalled Bobby Bradley, who was at the top of the International League in home runs while at Triple-A Columbus. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Let’s just say that some roster moves make themselves. This was one of them.

For most of the first half of the season the Cleveland Indians have been at or near the bottom of the American League in home runs. Meanwhile, at Triple-A Columbus, the Indians’ top minor league affiliate, first baseman Bobby Bradley was leading the International League in home runs.

Hmmmm.

Sunday the Indians finally made the obvious move, recalling Bradley from Columbus. The 23-year-old slugger made his major league debut, belting an RBI double in his first major league at bat, as the Indians completed a three-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers with an 8-3 victory.

Cleveland fans have been clamoring for Bradley for several weeks, and Sunday they finally got their wish.

Bradley joining the Indians is a match made in offensive-futility heaven. The Indians selected Bradley in the third round of the 2014 June draft, as a high schooler out of Gulfport, Miss. At the start of his professional career he hit the ground slugging. He led his minor league in home runs and RBI in each of his first three years in Cleveland’s minor league system.

That included his monster 2016 season at Class-A Lynchburg, where he was named the Most Valuable Player in the Carolina League. In 485 at bats he walloped 29 home runs, with 102 RBI, leading the league in both categories.

In 2017 it was 23 homers and 89 RBI at Double-A Akron. In 2018 it was a combined 27 home runs and 83 RBI at Akron and Columbus.

This year at Columbus, the left-handed hitting Bradley was batting .292 with 17 doubles, 24 home runs and 55 RBI. He was leading the International League in home runs and slugging percentage (.638), was second in RBI and fourth in OPS (.997).

In June he was hitting .316, and in his last 19 games he had nine home runs and 16 RBI. Meanwhile, in Cleveland, the Indians’ offense was, well, offensive. In particular, the power numbers were among the league’s worst. The best indicator of that: despite the fact that the Indians are fourth in the American League in home runs in the month of June, they still rank just 10th in the league in home runs for the season. Bradley, who at Columbus had more doubles, home runs and RBI than any player on the Indians, should help.

“We just want him to be who he is,” said Indians manager Terry Francona.

Part of who Bradley is involves strikeouts. Lots of them. It comes with the turf for power hitters, and it’s part of the Bradley package. Over the last two years in the minors Bradley averaged one home run every 14.5 at bats, but also one strikeout every three at bats.

“Guys with that much power, there is going to be some swing and miss, but he’s maturing as a hitter,” said Francona.

For Bradley, Sunday was all about firsts, and the excitement and nerves that come with a player’s first day in the major leagues.

“I still don’t think it’s hit me yet that I’m here,” he said before the game. “It’s a lifelong dream come true.”

As he was making the two-hour drive from Columbus to Cleveland on Saturday, Bradley said he was trying to keep his nerves under control.

“I kept telling myself I’m here for a reason,” he said. “That’s to do all I can to help get this team to the World Series.”

In his major league debut Sunday, Bradley was in the lineup at first base and batting seventh. First base wasn’t exactly a position of need for the Indians. Carlos Santana has gotten most of the starts at that position this year, and he is one of three finalists in the voting to be the starter at first base for the American League All-Star team.

It seems likely that Santana will continue to get most of the starts at first base, with Bradley getting occasional starts at first, but being used more often as the designated hitter.

“We need to respect the fact that Carlos has worked hard to be an all-star caliber first baseman, but we also don’t want Bobby to exclusively be the DH,” Francona said.

Sunday, however, even Bradley’s veteran manager got caught up a little in the Bradley fever.

“This is a fun day for us, to see him come bouncing in here,” Francona said. “It’s fun to see a kid this excited. You remember him when he first signed with us, and now he’s up here trying to help the major league team win. That’s pretty cool.”

In his first at bat Sunday, with runners at first and second and one out, Bradley hit a towering drive into the left field corner that bounced into the seats for a ground rule double, driving in the Indians’ first run of the game.

“That was nice to see. You only have one first time,” Francona said.

“It still doesn’t feel real to me yet,” said Bradley after the game. “A day I’ll never forget.”

 

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Indians Baseball

The Indians, who are near the bottom of the American League in home runs, have recalled Bobby Bradley, who was at the top of the International League in home runs while at Triple-A Columbus. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Let’s just say that some roster moves make themselves. This was one of them.

For most of the first half of the season the Cleveland Indians have been at or near the bottom of the American League in home runs. Meanwhile, at Triple-A Columbus, the Indians’ top minor league affiliate, first baseman Bobby Bradley was leading the International League in home runs.

Hmmmm.

Sunday the Indians finally made the obvious move, recalling Bradley from Columbus. The 23-year-old slugger made his major league debut, belting an RBI double in his first major league at bat, as the Indians completed a three-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers with an 8-3 victory.

Cleveland fans have been clamoring for Bradley for several weeks, and Sunday they finally got their wish.

Bradley joining the Indians is a match made in offensive-futility heaven. The Indians selected Bradley in the third round of the 2014 June draft, as a high schooler out of Gulfport, Miss. At the start of his professional career he hit the ground slugging. He led his minor league in home runs and RBI in each of his first three years in Cleveland’s minor league system.

That included his monster 2016 season at Class-A Lynchburg, where he was named the Most Valuable Player in the Carolina League. In 485 at bats he walloped 29 home runs, with 102 RBI, leading the league in both categories.

In 2017 it was 23 homers and 89 RBI at Double-A Akron. In 2018 it was a combined 27 home runs and 83 RBI at Akron and Columbus.

This year at Columbus, the left-handed hitting Bradley was batting .292 with 17 doubles, 24 home runs and 55 RBI. He was leading the International League in home runs and slugging percentage (.638), was second in RBI and fourth in OPS (.997).

In June he was hitting .316, and in his last 19 games he had nine home runs and 16 RBI. Meanwhile, in Cleveland, the Indians’ offense was, well, offensive. In particular, the power numbers were among the league’s worst. The best indicator of that: despite the fact that the Indians are fourth in the American League in home runs in the month of June, they still rank just 10th in the league in home runs for the season. Bradley, who at Columbus had more doubles, home runs and RBI than any player on the Indians, should help.

“We just want him to be who he is,” said Indians manager Terry Francona.

Part of who Bradley is involves strikeouts. Lots of them. It comes with the turf for power hitters, and it’s part of the Bradley package. Over the last two years in the minors Bradley averaged one home run every 14.5 at bats, but also one strikeout every three at bats.

“Guys with that much power, there is going to be some swing and miss, but he’s maturing as a hitter,” said Francona.

For Bradley, Sunday was all about firsts, and the excitement and nerves that come with a player’s first day in the major leagues.

“I still don’t think it’s hit me yet that I’m here,” he said before the game. “It’s a lifelong dream come true.”

As he was making the two-hour drive from Columbus to Cleveland on Saturday, Bradley said he was trying to keep his nerves under control.

“I kept telling myself I’m here for a reason,” he said. “That’s to do all I can to help get this team to the World Series.”

In his major league debut Sunday, Bradley was in the lineup at first base and batting seventh. First base wasn’t exactly a position of need for the Indians. Carlos Santana has gotten most of the starts at that position this year, and he is one of three finalists in the voting to be the starter at first base for the American League All-Star team.

It seems likely that Santana will continue to get most of the starts at first base, with Bradley getting occasional starts at first, but being used more often as the designated hitter.

“We need to respect the fact that Carlos has worked hard to be an all-star caliber first baseman, but we also don’t want Bobby to exclusively be the DH,” Francona said.

Sunday, however, even Bradley’s veteran manager got caught up a little in the Bradley fever.

“This is a fun day for us, to see him come bouncing in here,” Francona said. “It’s fun to see a kid this excited. You remember him when he first signed with us, and now he’s up here trying to help the major league team win. That’s pretty cool.”

In his first at bat Sunday, with runners at first and second and one out, Bradley hit a towering drive into the left field corner that bounced into the seats for a ground rule double, driving in the Indians’ first run of the game.

“That was nice to see. You only have one first time,” Francona said.

“It still doesn’t feel real to me yet,” said Bradley after the game. “A day I’ll never forget.”

 

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