When the Milwaukee Brewers drafted Jed Bradley in 2011, things were supposed to be simple. He was supposed to quickly rise to stardom and become a top of the rotation starter in Milwaukee. The only question was how quickly was he going to get to Miller Park?
But baseball is not always easy to project. While Bradley looked to have the tools to skyrocket to stardom, injuries and then ineffectiveness on the mound cost him big time. He finished his first two professional seasons going 9-14 with an ERA over five in 2012 and over four in 2013.
Besides injury his biggest difficulty through these first two seasons was command. After averaging nearly four walks per nine innings in his first season as a professional, he waked 4.5 during his season season. These struggles helped to not only raise his ERA, but also put his yearly WHIP numbers over 1.50 each year.
Last year however, Bradley began to finally look like the pitcher he was expected to be when taken as the 15th overall pick. He pitched with poise during his ten starts at Class A Brevard County, going 5-2 while pounding the strike zone. His aggressiveness helped him to not only put together the best walk rate of his career, but also keep his ERA under three and earn a call-up to AA.
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Upon promotion to AA Huntsville, things did not go as well as Bradley finished the year with a 4.55 ERA. However through AA 17 starts, there were several high points. Though his walk rate did rise a bit, he was still able to keep his final numbers for the season under three walks per nine innings. While his August consisted of two rough starts, he posted a 3-1 July record with a 2.79 ERA. He was roughed up in his first three starts before the all-star game, but then was able to settle in and lower his ERA throughout his final 14 starts.
Not on the 40-man roster, this season will be vitally important for Bradley. Fellow first-rounder Taylor Jungmann had similar struggles before seemingly putting things together last season. Bradley will probably begin this season at AA Biloxi and he needs to be sharp from the start. With other pitchers in the system ready to pass him up and possible 2016 openings in Milwaukee, he needs to be even better this season if he ever hopes to see meaningful innings in Miller Park.