Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Will Jackie Bradley Ease Jacoby's Departure?

Jackie Bradley (Kelly O'Connor)
When it comes to Jacoby Ellsbury, most of us in The Nation have focused on when the heck he's coming off the disabled list. And rightly so. However, the 800-pound gorilla lurking over there in the corner is actually Scott Boras—he just negotiates like a gorilla. Despite his shaky health history, after next year, Jacoby Ellsbury will hit the free agent market—with Boras in tow. In all likelihood, because of a combination of burdensome salaries and an obsession with foreign soccer, the NOG will pass on showering Jacoby with riches. So, now what?

That "what", or "who" to be precise, might just be Jackie Bradley, Jr. The sizzling Red Sox center field prospect has been tearing up the minor leagues all year (.480 AVG, .526 OBP, 1.006 OPS at Single A Salem)—and is now poised to wreak havoc in AA with the Portland Sea Dogs. A year and a half from now, he might have progressed enough to take over the mantle (no pun intended) from Jacoby.

How has the kid been doing? Well, Baseball America just ranked him in the Top Ten among all minor league position players for run creation. In parts of two seasons so far (Single and Double A), the 22-year old is hitting .346 with a .461 OBP and a .966 OPS. The 2011 First Round pick (#40) from the University of South Carolina is a potential five-tool player, with the speed to make a difference (16 steals this year in 22 attempts). So, while it would be devastating to lose an MVP-caliber player like Jacoby Ellsbury, we can at least know that a budding star is on the way to potentially replace him.