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.