Big Bobby? Bradley draws comparison to former Red Sox slugger

Big Bobby? Bradley draws comparison to former Red Sox slugger

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - As a young baseball player, Bobby Bradley recalls being an energetic, cartwheeling performer in the outfield.

Four months from his 21st birthday, Bradley witnessed firsthand just how spirited youth athletes can be at his second annual free baseball camp at Harrison Central High School.

"Once the kids hit on the field, they say they want to do this, this and this," Bradley said. "It's hectic but as long as they're having fun, that's what it's all about."

Maturity isn't common among youth, and neither was the type of swing that Bradley had in middle school.

After the three-hour training session Saturday at his alma mater, Bradley stepped into the batting cage and showed off his visual signature by belting a few home runs despite a moderate wind blowing in from center field.

"He had a big-league swing at 12 years old," said Matt Lawton, who spent 12 years in Major League Baseball. "He's going out showing people now that he should've been a first-rounder. He's putting up numbers every year everywhere he goes. I told him one more good year (and) I think he'll be in the show."

A one-time LSU verbal commitment, Bradley decided against college baseball and was instead drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the third round of the 2014 draft. listed him as the No. 3 prospect in the Indians organization and 95th in all of the minors last year in which Bradley hit .235 with 29 home runs and 102 RBIs in 131 games at High-A Lynchburg.

"Power is something that is coveted by every Major League organization," said Barry Lyons, who spent parts of seven seasons in the pros. "(Bradley's) power is at the upper level of all of Major League Baseball. I expect him to be a 30, possibly 40-homer guy."

While Bradley's strikeout numbers over the past two seasons have been high (170 in 2016 and 150 in 2015), his strength and ability to draw walks can help offset the strikeout tendency.

If that is eventually perfected, Lawton sees the 20-year-old being comparable to former Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz.

"If you watched Big Papi, everybody wonders how he had such a great season, you saw that he used the whole field," Lawton said. "He hit tons of balls to left and tons of balls to right. If Bobby gets back to doing that, you'll see him put up similar numbers."

Bradley has also used this offseason to improve his defensive game, which was considered average at best through his first three seasons in the minors.

It appears his community service ability is already at an elite level, but the 6'3" slugger is still adjusting to baseball stardom.

A few South Mississippi campers asked him, 'Are you the real Bobby Bradley?'

It sure is, kids. And when you witness moonshots off his bat, you can celebrate by moonwalking.

Just don't do cartwheels in the outfield.

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