Future looks bright for Sox prospect Bradley, Jr.


Future looks bright for Sox prospect Bradley, Jr.

BOSTON For Jackie Bradley, it was a year of opening some eyes and making his mark. In his first full season, the Red Sox fourth pick in the first round (40th overall) in 2011 out of the University of South Carolina, hit .315 with nine home runs, 63 RBI, a .430 on-base percentage, and a .482 slugging percentage in 128 combined games between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland.

But it was also a season of listening and learning for him.

Just listening to my body, Bradley said Friday morning. Listening to what its telling me and being able to make adjustments daily, whether its during the game or the preparation before the game. I actually developed a routine this year maybe halfway when I was in Portland. I didnt really have a routine. So just developing that and sticking with that is what I learned the most.

Bradley -- who was at Harvard Friday morning, one of 11 Red Sox prospects in the organizations week-long rookie development program did slow down at the end of the season. In his last 10 games, he went 7-for-27, batting .259, with just two extra-base hits.

His focus this season?

Being healthy, he said. Staying healthy once again. Sticking with a routine. Still developing, progressing the way things are supposed. Just trying to make sure winnings a top priority.

But, its the maturity he displayed throughout the past season and paying attention when learning experiences presented themselves that the Red Sox noticed.

Thats a huge thing for him to come in really in his first full season, dominating High A the way he did, pushed his way to Double A, said Ben Crockett, the Sox farm director. But the way he handled it and he gets a lot of attention, as he should, and had previously based on his success in college. I think the way he was able to handle that and go out and take care of his business every day, the passion that he continued to show. You watch him shag in centerfield during batting practice and all the guys joke with him about his power shagging because he takes it really seriously. Hes working on something at all times. The way that he was able to maintain that throughout the year and offseason was pretty impressive.

One of the goals of the mini camp is to help young players prepare for big league life, both on and off the field, and get ready for the rigors of playing in Boston.

I think it isnt necessarily one personality type that can do it, Crockett said. But certainly Jackies comfort and confidence with himself to be who he is. Hes been accountable and I think maybe most importantly hes shown to us in a short period of time despite the performance when he doesnt perform well and the team wins, hes happy. I think that focus on team helps all these guys.

I think thats something that definitely Jackie embodies and a lot of these guys do and thats part of the reason they're here.

As a minor leaguer, though, sometimes that focus on team can be confounding. A young player wants to shine and get noticed, with the hope of earning a promotion.

Yeah, obviously, you arent going to move up if somebody else is doing really good, said Bradley, who turns 23 in April. But you still got to stay within, because it is a team sport. You cant really do it by yourself. Everything has to work together in order to win. And thats pretty much what we want to do. Winning trumps everything. Once everyone gets a better understanding of that, well be able to win.

Bradley appeared in 114 combined games in center field, and one in right, serving as the designated hitter in 12. He posted a combined .973 fielding percentage in center, committing seven errors in 260 chances, with three assists.

With Jacoby Ellsburys impending free agency after this season, Bradley has been tabbed by many observers as the Sox center fielder of the future. While neither he nor the organization has been willing to run with that, he will take an opportunity that is presented.

I see opportunity anyway, he said. Just being able to take advantage of every single opportunity that you get, whatever that may be, Ill make sure Im ready for it.

Bryce Brentz, who earned a late-season promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket last season, and Alex Hassan are also in camp. They represent what could be the Sox outfield of the future.

Yeah, you hope so, Crockett said. I think theres guys that certainly have that potential. There's guys that the three guys here have all the talent to impact. But I think certainly all three have some development still to do and itll be up to them to kind of drive that and up to us to help them get there.

NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945


NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton KershawAnthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.