minor league notebook

He’s working for tips

Bradley benefits from expertise

By Alex Prewitt
Globe Correspondent / July 6, 2012
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Carl Crawford calls Jackie Bradley “South Cack-A-Lacky,” after South Carolina, Bradley’s alma mater. Bradley calls Crawford “Texas,” for his Houston roots.

Starting side by side in Double A Portland this week, both in the outfield and in the batting order, the pair offered a sneak peak into a potential future Fenway outfield.

Crawford is merely passing through the Sea Dogs clubhouse, for a short stint to rehab his injured left elbow, the goal being a return to Boston after the All-Star break. Bradley, meanwhile, is tearing through Eastern League pitching since being called up from Single A Salem in mid-June.

In 15 games with the Sea Dogs entering Thursday, Bradley was hitting .377 with a .935 OPS. The 40th overall pick in 2011, and Most Outstanding Player at the 2010 College World Series, first met Crawford in Fort Myers, Fla., for spring training, but has not had much of a chance lately to pick the outfielder’s brain.

“I’m just letting him go about his own business, I don’t want to get in the way,” Bradley said Tuesday. “We chit-chat, joking around in the locker room. But other than that, I know he’s here to get his work in and I’m here to get my work in.”

Batting third Wednesday at New Hampshire behind Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury, who joined the Sea Dogs to rehab his injured shoulder, Bradley outshined his seniors, going 4 for 6 with two runs and a double in the Fisher Cats’ 11-10 extra-inning win.

Bradley has multiple hits in five of his last 10 games.

“He’s always played on a high level, as far as a big stage,” manager Kevin Boles said Tuesday. “The thing that’s impressive is that there’s no fear. Normally, it takes a little while for guys to catch up to the speed of the level, but he’s just attacking this level.

“Obviously, he has a comfort level. If you watch him prepare in batting practice, the way he shags fly balls, the way his mental preparation goes from an offensive standpoint, there should be some comfort level because he works so hard. Add that to his ability, and you’ve got a pretty special player.”

As far as personal adjustments go since his promotion, Bradley said he is working on developing a daily routine.

“It’s great that I’m up here early,” Bradley said. “Just trying to take it easy, not in the aspect of playing, but mentally relax myself and go about my business the right way every single day, trying to get better.”

The bonuses kept coming for Bradley. After Crawford’s debut Tuesday, Ellsbury joined the team Wednesday in Manchester, N.H., and Ryan Sweeney arrived Thursday. All three will have brief stays, but all three provide learning opportunities for Bradley.

“He goes after balls hard, he gets his work in, it looks like he’s going to be a good little player,” Crawford said. “With more time, he’s probably going to keep getting better.

“He’s the one that stood out the most. When you’re looking to see what teams have, you see something that makes you notice real quick, and he’s a guy that you notice right off the bat.”

Ranaudo struggles

Back in 2009, Anthony Ranaudo was third in the NCAA in strikeouts, behind only Mike Leake and Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg is now a Cy Young contender with the Nationals, Leake is in his third season with the Reds. Ranaudo, on the other hand, is 1-3 with a 6.69 ERA for Portland.

Drafted 39th overall by Boston in 2010 and given a $2.55 million signing bonus, Ranaudo has had difficulty gaining traction in the minors. He lasted just three innings Tuesday against Trenton, allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits in an 11-3 loss, and was placed on the disabled list Thursday with shoulder fatigue.

All five runs came in the third inning. After Jose Pirela lined out to lead off the frame, Ranaudo gave up consecutive singles, a three-run homer, a double, a hit by pitch, and a walk.

“With Anthony, I think the thing that needs to come along is the fastball command,” Boles said. “He’s a guy who has a lot to offer. He’s a big, strong kid, has a feel for the breaking ball and the changeup. But the fastball command is something he’s focusing on and needs to improve on.”

That improvement, Boles said, can only come through bullpen sessions, video analysis, and pregame work. But given Ranaudo’s makeup, Boles is confident that such progression will eventually surface for the 6-foot-7-inch righthander.

“He’s frustrated at times, but again, he’s a competitor,” Boles said. “He’s a guy who wants to pitch better than what he has, and he’s shown that he can. That’s the thing, with his work ethic and his drive, he’ll get it right, because he’s too focused and too intelligent not to.

“We’ve seen a lot of positives. We’ll just focus on those and try to strengthen his game.”

Barnes on a slide

Matt Barnes has hit a wall for Salem. He has not lasted past the fourth inning in three straight starts, most recently allowing six runs on six hits in 3 innings against Myrtle Beach Tuesday. In his last three outings, Barnes has allowed 14 runs in 8 innings, and has struck out just six, but his ERA is still 3.48 . . . Mark Prior threw a live bullpen session for Triple A Pawtucket Tuesday as he recovers from an oblique strain that landed him on the DL . . . Lefthander Henry Owens made his return from the disabled list for Single A Greenville. Owens had not pitched since June 23 after getting hit on the head with a ball during batting practice . . . After a hot start to his professional career, first-round pick Deven Marrero has cooled off. The Arizona State shortstop is 2 for 26 in his last six games through Wednesday for short-season Lowell . . . Baseball America released its midseason list of the top 50 prospects. Barnes is ranked 13th, shortstop Xander Bogaerts is 31st, and Bradley is 32d . . . Bogaerts and Barnes will appear in Sunday’s Futures Game in Kansas City, Mo.

Alex Prewitt can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt.

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