With the 15th overall selection in last summer’s first-year MLB player draft, the Milwaukee Brewers pulled the trigger on Georgia Tech junior left-hander Jed Bradley.
A three-year contributor to the Yellowjackets’ bullpen and starting rotation (he went 18-11 with a 4.62 ERA and 1.38 WHIP during his collegiate stay) Bradley was considered one of the top overall pitchers of the 2011 class and according to MLB.com prospect expert Jonathan Mayo, ranked as the eighth-best overall prospect coming into first-round action.
Weighing in at 6’4″, 225 pounds, the Huntsville, Alabama native has the prototypical frame and sound, fluid delivery that scouts like to see out of a seasoned college starter. He has four average to plus-average pitches — fastball, curve, changeup and slider — at his disposal and throws each efficiently, though none yet grade out as a real dominating pitch at this stage of his development.
After getting his feet wet in this past fall’s Arizona Fall League, the Brewers promoted Bradley to their class-A advanced minor league affiliate Brevard County Manatees to start his professional career. Now four starts into his 2012 campaign, Bradley is 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA and 0.917 WHIP, allowing just 18 hits while striking out 23 in 24 total innings.
He’s performed everything like what GM Doug Melvin wanted him to be when they took him with their middle-round pick in last summer’s draft. Bradley’s outstanding production early in his first professional season has given fans reason enough to expect him to make his way to the majors potentially by the start of the 2014 season.
With Bradley quickly becoming one of the most talked-about prospects in all of the minors this season, it’s time to give Brewers fans some insight on what should become their future No. 4 starter. The following is a fully-fledged scouting report on Milwaukee’s most popular young southpaw.
Weight: 225 pounds
Bradley weighs in at an athletic 6’4″, 225 pounds. He has the prototypical frame of a future innings-eater at the next level, thanks in large part to both his height and weight.
While he’s by no means has a lanky build, he does have long, loose arms that prevent him from having to overthrow his pitches. For that reason, he’s a very durable pitcher that projects to log at the very least 200 innings each season at the big league level.
Bradley works out of a 3/4 arm slot and has a very smooth delivery that’s very repeatable. Unlike many pitchers at the minor league level that can be overly dependent on their fastball, Bradley has four solid pitches he’s shown to be able to throw in just about any situation, so there isn’t too much emphasis on his velocity. Consequently, he’s doesn’t throw all of his body weight into his pitches.
Alluding to my earlier point, Bradley’s has a very smooth delivery that has very little wasted movement. This is obvious in the above clip from his last season in Georgia Tech. One of the biggest problems that many prep and collegiate pitchers can have in their first few years of professional ball is translating their mechanics from the windup to the stretch with runners on base. They often try to speed up their delivery, and that in turn can mess up their foot-placement, arm slot and other vital mechanics.
For Bradley, that doesn’t seem like much of a problem. In fact, I consider it a strength of his. His delivery translates very well from the windup to the stretch.
The three snapshots below show Bradley’s first three pitches of the clip shown earlier.
Working out of the stretch, Bradley’s mechanics are very good and it’s clear that his coaches at Georgia Tech worked extensively to shore up that facet of his game. While I’d maybe like to see him get a bit more tilt and body weight into his pitches, I can’t complain about much else. His is able to open his hips at the same rate consistently and his arm slot consistency is where it needs to be.
The only flack I have to give him would be to solidify his foot placement — he tends to throw somewhat closed off with his right foot slightly toward first base — as he could use a bit more refinement in that area. Not a big issue at all, though.
Bradley is by no means an overpowering pitcher with plus-average velocity, however, he does have the velocity necessary to get hitters out at the big league level. His four-seam fastball ranges anywhere from 90-94 MPH and he does have a lot of confidence in this pitch.
His two-seamer sits regularly in the 90-92 MPH range with good movement. He’ll need to work on commanding this pitch late in counts, though it does have some projectability moving forward.
Apart from his fastball, Bradley has two very solid pitches — change-up and slider — that he loves to mix in regularly against hitters. Thanks to his above-average ability to hide the ball during his delivery, his change-up grades out as a plus-average pitch that regularly catches hitters off guard. This pitch will be a tremendous asset for Bradley as he pushes through the system as the competition gets tougher.
Bradley also throws a slider with solid movement that has improved by leaps and bounds since the beginning of his junior season with Georgia Tech. He threw it with way too much inconsistency during his collegiate years, however, it’s become a real weapon against Florida State League hitters thus far this season.
At 6″4, 225 pounds, Bradley has the physical tools and frame necessary to thrive as a middle-of-the-rotation starter at the big league level. Couple that with his durability, mound presence, collegiate success and three solid, projectable three-pitch repertoire, and Bradley should be a consistent 200-inning, 30+ year starter in any big-league rotation.
It remains to be seen how fast the Brewers plan on pushing Bradley threw the system. But given the fact that he skipped both rookie and low-A ball and headed straight to the Florida State League to start his professional career, it isn’t out of the question to suggest that he could have a spot in Milwaukee’s rotation by the end of 2013.