When the Milwaukee Brewers selected Jed Bradley in the first round of the 2011 draft, he was viewed as a pitcher who would soar up the charts and quickly join the rotation. As early as the 2012 season, he was ranked in the top 100 prospect rankings by both Baseball America and MLB.com, but so far nothing has been easy for him.
Not only did Bradley deal with early injuries, but he also has struggled on the mound. Instead of easily climbing the ladder, Bradley has spent most of three season’s in High-A Brevard County trying to master his craft, and he has looked nothing like a top prospect.
During his first full season as a minor leaguer, Bradley went a woeful 5-10 with an ERA of 5.53. While his numbers have improved each season since, he still has not been able to consistently show that he can excel at a high level in the rotation.
Last season he finally looked to be figuring things out at Brevard County, by going 5-2 with a 2.98 ERA in his first 10 starts before being promoted to Huntsville. But once he got to Huntsville, he against struggled. While he was not awful and was able to provide quality starts, Bradley finished out the AA season with a 4.55 ERA. Though he showed flashes, he still was not good enough to show that he could be a counted on arm.
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Combining these consistency struggles with the tremendous amount of starting pitching depth that the Brewers have in the minor leagues and a change looks necessary for Bradley’s future. Yesterday, Brewers’ beat writer Tom Haudricourt tweeted that Bradley is heading to the bullpen to try to work his way onto the big league roster.
This spring while pitching in this role he has excelled in limited action with the big club. In two appearances he has struck out three batters and he has yet to allow a run.
By making this move I think the Brewers are doing the right thing. While they currently have a rotation that lacks a left handed option, they have generally struggled to find left handed relievers.
Earlier in the winter I wrote that it is a big year for Bradley with the Brewers. If he continue to figure it out in the bullpen, he certainly has the talent to be a deceptive arm in Milwaukee. Currently ranked as the team’s 26th best prospect by MLB.com, he has a much better chance to accelerate his career as a reliever than he would as a starter with the team. I wish Bradley the best of luck as he continues to develop in his new role.