Bobby Bradley has come out swinging for the Cleveland Indians.
The first baseman’s season debut was overshadowed by the brilliance of Cedric Mullins this past weekend, as Cleveland dropped two of three to the Baltimore Orioles, but it was still impressive.
In five at-bats over two games, Bradley went 4-for-5 with two doubles, a home run, three RBIs, and three runs scored.
Bobby Bradley – Cleveland Indians (1) 2-run. pic.twitter.com/HfCELGsxaw
— MLB HR Tracker (@hr_mlb) June 6, 2021
Bradley, known as “The Assassin,” entered 2021 as the 18th-ranked prospect in the Indians’ system, and the sixth-ranked prospect among all first baseman due to his incredible power.
As a minor leaguer, from 2015-2019 Bradley sent 139 baseballs into the stands, averaging nearly 28 per season. The biggest impediment on his path to the bigs has been his lack of plate discipline. Over nearly 2500 at-bats, he managed only a .251 average and struck out 814 times.
By the end of spring training, he was hitting .303 and an OPS of .951. After joining the Triple-A Columbus Clippers, his inconsistency returned. His average dropped to .196 in 109 plate appearances.
But, that power though.
He still managed to crush nine home runs for the Clippers, like this shot right before he was called up.
Columbus Clippers (1B) Bobby Bradley collected 4 hits tonight in a double header vs Indianapolis including a double & his 9th HR (Video) of the season.@b_bradley_44 #Assassin #Indians #OurCLE pic.twitter.com/pLwRnmbh8y
— Indians Prospective (@indiansPro) June 5, 2021
In five at-bats Bradley nearly matched the season production of Jake Bauers, who had been at first for 43 games and 100 ABs. Bauers had just two home runs, three doubles, six RBIs, and scored seven times.
So it was hard for Indians fans to not immediately be excited about adding more offense to a team chasing the loaded Chicago White Sox in the American League Central standings.
Bobby Bradley 4-5 with 2 2Bs and a HR already. He's done more in 5 ABs than Jake Bauers had done in weeks of painful to watch ABs.
— JR (@jimtron1987) June 6, 2021
Cleveland manager Terry Francona welcomed any offensive production on a day when his team got trounced 18-5. The Indians have been awful at the plate all season. Their 231 runs are third-worst in the American League, and only the Seattle Mariners (.208) are batting worse than Cleveland’s .221 team average.
“That was really good to see,” said Francona. “Again, we’re dying to get some production from our lineup and to get him off to a good start I think is important. Hopefully, he feels really good about himself.”
But not too good. This has been the season of the pitcher. Strikeouts and no-hitters are getting racked up at record numbers. Bradley has been waiting for his moment to prove himself, and he should get every opportunity to show that he’s ready for the main stage. Even if he does struggle occasionally, the Indians don’t have any other option than to let Bradley work through it.
“I feel like there’s actually less pressure now in my case,” he said after Sunday’s defeat. “With all the moves that happened, now they’re looking at me and I get to settle in and play my game.”
His defense has to get better, and teams will challenge him to see if Bradley can maintain the steady approach he took over the weekend, but Bobby Bradley seems up to the challenge. His first trip to the bigs lasted only 15 games, back in 2019.
He batted .178 with four RBIs, barely getting a chance to taste his cup of coffee, let alone enjoy it.
He did do this.
BOBBY BRADLEY WITH A 2 RUN BLAST pic.twitter.com/iY59jwZKcv
— Milly Rock (@33Milner) June 6, 2021
That 457-foot towering blast against the Minnesota Twins showed off the ability to crush the ball with Giancarlo Stanton-like power, as the ball jumped off his bat at a staggering 113.5 mph.
Bradley plans to stick this time around by playing his game and not taking any of this for granted.
“All the starry-eyed moments are gone,” he said. “Like being around all the guys you watched on TV. Now I’m just another one of the guys and I just get to go out and have fun.”
And if Bobby Bradley is having fun, that means pitchers won’t be.