Bradley gets notice, but no promotion
Outfielder hits on all cylinders
Beset by injuries that have resulted in seven Red Sox outfielders being placed on the disabled list, the organization took steps to bolster its ranks Thursday by promoting Ronald Bermudez from Double A Portland to Triple A Pawtucket and Shannon Wilkerson from High A Salem to Portland.
The moves were made to plug holes left by the big league club’s desperate need for outfielders.
While he has been regarded as one of the system’s brighter prospects - ranked by Baseball America as the Sox’ No. 3 outfield prospect and the team’s 10th overall - Jackie Bradley Jr. surprisingly remained put in Salem. This after the 22-year-old center fielder was praised last week by director of player development Ben Crockett for “being about as consistent as any hitter in our organization.’’
Bradley, a 5-foot-10-inch, 180-pounder went into Thursday’s games leading the Carolina League with a .367 average, having reached base in 33 of his last 34 games, including 29 in a row.
“That’s always good to hear, when something positive is said about you,’’ he said.
Bradley’s on-base streak was snapped last Thursday in a 2-0 win at Carolina that put Salem in first place in the Southern Division for the first time this season.
“I can only hope to keep it up,’’ he said. “It’s great to hear, but I’m not taking any days off. I’m still going at it like I know how, and that’s 100 percent.’’
Bradley has taken that aggressive approach at the plate, attaining a .495 on-base percentage, the best in all of minor league baseball.
“I’m just trying to see a lot of pitches,’’ Bradley said by phone from Salem, Va. “It’s a small league, so you get to see the same pitchers. So the more pitches you see, the more consistent you’ll be. I’ve been trying to work the count, not only for myself but also for my teammates, so they’ll have a good idea of what to do when they come to the plate. I just want to be the toughest out I can be to a pitcher.’’
Bradley owes his approach at the plate to an unusual mind-set.
“I’m very comfortable being behind in the count, with two strikes,’’ he said. “It really doesn’t bother me going straight to 0-and-2. I feel like I have the confidence and the discipline to work myself back to a favorable count.
“If a pitcher makes a mistake, it’s better for me.’’
In 39 games, Bradley had 37 runs on 51 hits - including 15 doubles, 2 triples, and 3 home runs - with 24 RBIs. He walked 34 times and struck out 24.
As Salem’s leadoff hitter, Bradley has spearheaded the league’s best hitting team (.282 team average). Third baseman Travis Shaw went into Thursday’s games third in the league with a .345 average, and Wilkerson was No. 4 at .329 and led the league in stolen bases (16) before his promotion.
“Travis Shaw is my roommate on the road, so it’s pretty much like being in a hitting competition with him,’’ said Bradley, who was a supplemental first-round pick (40th overall) out of South Carolina last year. “And with Shannon, we’re always talking about trying to steal bases.
“We’ve actually been able to feed off each other’s energy, and whenever you’re able to do that, you’re not only making yourself better, but you’re making your teammates better. That’s what I want to do. I want to be able to not only excel, but I want to make whoever else is around me a whole lot better.’’
Bradley’s solid lefthanded bat, as well as his plate discipline, could have him on the move sooner rather than later.
“I honestly don’t know what their plans are, whether it’s development, I don’t know,’’ he said. “I haven’t been given a timetable or anything like that.
“No matter what happens, nothing is a surprise to me. I feel like being surprised by something is just a lack of preparation. So I’m prepared for anything they want to do with me.’’
Pawtucket’s Doug Mathis threw seven shutout innings, allowing one hit and ringing up three strikeouts, in a 4-0 blanking at Norfolk Monday.
It was a stunning reversal for the 28-year-old righthander, who surrendered four runs on 10 hits over 5 1/3 innings in his previous outing, a 5-4 victory at Durham May 16 in which Alex Wilson picked up the win in relief.
Against Norfolk, Mathis (3-2, 4.23) retired the first 14 batters before allowing a two-out triple to Ronny Paulino in the fifth inning. He got the next batter, Chris Robinson, to ground to short, then retired the side in order in the sixth and seventh.
“I was just throwing a lot of strikes and being aggressive,’’ Mathis told MLB.com. “They were hitting the ball on the ground and right at the defense. It was one of those nights where I was throwing well, but when they hit the ball, it was right at someone.’’
Long drought ends
Drew Hedman snapped a seven-game homerless streak for Salem by connecting in Wednesday’s 7-5 victory over Winston-Salem. Hedman’s second homer of the season gave the Sox 19 for the season, fewest in the Carolina League despite their league-leading batting average (.282) . . . When Norfolk visits Pawtucket for a four-game series beginning Monday, it will be the only visit of the season to McCoy Stadium for Tides manager Ron Johnson, who skippered the PawSox from 2005-09 before joining Terry Francona’s staff in Boston as first base coach . . . After getting no-hit by New Hampshire Monday, then rained out Tuesday, the Portland Sea Dogs got their vengeance Wednesday by sweeping New Hampshire, 7-6 in eight innings, and 3-2.