This message will continue to be posted on each of the top 12 draft targets I will be listing daily until draft day: the players listed are not “the best” players in the draft, they are simply those that I believe could be around when the Jays draft, and that could wind up being selected by the Blue Birds when their turns come up. The list has 12 of the top targets and will be presented in reverse order (from least likely, to most likely).
#11: Jackie Bradley Jr. (21)
Outfielder (CF) / 5’10” 170 lbs / Prince George, Virginia
Born: April 19th, 1990
High School Team: Prince George, Virginia
College: South Carolina Gamecocks
- 1st Team College Freshman All-American OF in 2009
- Led South Carolina to a national championship in 2010.
- Played for the USA College squad.
- Was named the most outstanding player of the College World Series in 2010.
- Earned second-team All-SEC honors
- Was named to SEC All-Defensive Team
- Was Baseball America’s 40th best prospect overall in the state of Virginia for 2008 MLB Draft
- College, ’09: 255 AB / 89 hits / 11 DB / 2 TR / 11 HR / 8 SB / 34 BB / 31 SO / .349 AVG / .430 OBP / .537 SLG
- Cape Cod Lg, ’09: 153 AB / 42 hits / 6 DB / 4 TR / 0 HR / 10 SB / 17 BB / 20 SO / .275 AVG / .351 OBP / .366 SLG
- College, ’10: 242 AB / 89 hits / 12 DB / 1 TR / 13 HR / 7 SB / 41 BB / 37 SO / .368 AVG / .473 OBP / .587 SLG
- Here is a video where Jackie explains some points about his injury:
Here is a video where he talks about “the hit” that made SC champions, and more:
Pre-Draft Rankings (out of all hitters in brackets):
- BA Ranking May 25th: #34 (15)
- John Sickels May 20th: #35 (16)
If you look at the 2 videos above, you get a sense for who Jackie Bradley Jr., the person, is. He’s quiet, he’s confident, and he’s realistic about his situation as a player. With his talents, that can bring him a long way back from an injury that has been known to sap a player’s power by a great deal.
But let’s back up here. Why do I believe he may be available for the Jays? Well, I believe that the only way the Jays will take a shot on a player like Bradley is if he is available at #53 or #57 simply due to his lack of size, recently doubtful strength (due to the injury), and the costs associated with signing him. There are many teams who will shy away from grabbing him because they only have a 1st rd pick and no sandwich round picks, so if he doesn’t pan out, it makes their draft that much weaker. Then we have to consider the Rays, who are about middle of the road in terms of draft pick bonus expenditures. In 2010, they spent $7,150,800 to sign their picks, but spent even more in 2008 with $9,921,000 total. What that may indicate is that they’re willing to spend on the right players. However, there is a catch.
"“We are disappointed that LeVon has chosen not to sign with the Rays. We offered him a bonus consistent with late first-round picks”"
Oh, and by the way, Washington was represented by Scott Boras. Who represents Jackie Bradley Jr.? Yep, Scott Boras. I just don’t see the Rays going down that road again, particularly when they know that Boras will try to get top to mid 1st rd money since he’ll point to the injury as the only reason Bradley has slipped in the draft. What does that tell me? It tells me that the Jays could get lucky and have a chance to grab a very high quality player if, and only if, they’re ready and willing to meet the cost in terms of a bonus. Washington wound up being drafted by Cleveland in 2010, 55th overall, so it shows a little reasoning behind teams being cautious overall.
Ok, so let’s assume for one moment that they’re willing to both deal with Boras (something the Jays haven’t done in….?) and that they like Bradley enough to give him the money. What could it be about him that makes him so attractive to the Jays?
He’s got a humility and talent-package that rarely go together. Sure, it may take a while for his bat to get back to 100%, but there is no doubting his above-average “all-star caliber” skills which include a canon of an arm, perfect reads on the ball as it leaves the bat due to tremendous instincts, and excellent range. Just with those defensive skills and the ability to hit and make contact at an above-average rate, the Jays (or other MLB teams) know that they’re going to get “value” out of Bradley. If he had the speed to go out there and steal 25+ bases on an annual basis, I would say that his value would be worth the risk to go in the 1st rd. But at this point, 5-15 steals a season is the projection I keep reading, and that’s just not high enough for me. The question then becomes, if his power doesn’t come back, is the value as high as what Boras will ask for in bonus money?
I’m not really sure at this point. Why? Well, if the Jays do have a budget set for the draft (and I assume they do since they couldn’t sigh Kristopher Bryant in 2010), they can’t very well spend what they perceive to be too much on Bradley if it takes away from some of their other picks. In 2010, the Jays did not spend more than $815,400 on any of their sandwich round draft picks (that was on Asher Wojciechowski) and I can say with as close to certainty as you can get that Boras will be looking for more than $1 million for Bradley. Will teams drafting in the late 1st rd be willing to meet that price? Will the Jays? My bet is that it will scare many teams away, leading to his falling to the middle-late 1st sandwich round , giving the Jays a chance of grabbing him if they so wish to.
There’s a reason I think they may “so wish to”. The Jays grabbed their 1st outfielder in 2010 in the 12th rd, and he wasn’t signed (Omar Cotto). The next outfielder they selected was Dalton Pompey, who they did sign for $150,000. Pompey and Jonathan Jones (selected in the 29th round and currently playing in LoA Lansing) are the only 2 prominent outfielders to come out of the 2010 draft class. In my opinion, that may make the Jays hungry to add some outfield talent to their minors system. So, if Jackie is available late in the 1st sandwich round, I believe the Jays will bite. There’s a definite chance he won’t be, but right now my instincts tell me he will be available.
With a surgery behind him, struggles with the BBCOR bats, and a long slump that was evident before he got injured, there is little doubt in my mind that Jackie will go lower than most expect. If he slides so far that he is available when the Jays make the 57th selection in the draft, I believe they may bite and go to the table with Scott Boras to make a deal happen.
Expected Selection (if selected by the Jays): Last Jays pick in the Sandwich round, 57th overall.
At this point, I would compare Jackie’s potential to a Chris Coghlan type player offensively (5-10 HRs, 5-10 SB, and a line above .300/.350/.400 on average, even if Chris has struggled of late), and Torii Hunter defensively. That combination could make him a potent #2 hitter as well as a gold-glove caliber CF. That’s something the Jays will take a gamble on if the price is right in terms of when he’s available and how much his contract costs. His addition to the Jays minors system would provide it with some great OF depth, and could also allow Alex Anthopoulos to use other OF minors prospects as trade bait if the situation is right.
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