03/14/2013 8:25 PM
Article By: John Garner Jr.
When Jackie Bradley Jr. was patrolling center field for the Hyannis Mets in 2009, there was little doubt he possessed the necessary tools to perform at the next level.
The South Carolina product hit .275 with six doubles, four triples and 10 stolen bases, while catching everything hit his way in the spacious confines of McKeon Park.
Fast forward to 2013 and the 22-year-old speedster has climbed near the top of the prospect ladder for the Boston Red Sox and is lighting up spring training with a torrid .519 batting average (14-for-27), after going 3-for-4 with a leadoff homer and RBI double in an 8-7 loss to the Marlins Tuesday.
Last summer, Bradley was named to the Carolina League All-Star team and selected Boston’s Minor League Player of the Year after hitting .315 with 42 doubles, four triples and nine home runs between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland.
Baseball America rates him second best-best prospect in the Red Sox system behind only Xander Bogaerts, as well as best defensive outfielder and best hitter for average for former Hyannis hurler and first-year Red Sox manager John Farrell
Drafted 40th overall out of South Carolina in 2011, it’s expected Bradley will begin the season in Pawtucket and is heir apparent to former Falmouth Commodore Jacoby Ellsbury, who becomes a free agent after this season, so it might well be one Cape Leaguer replacing another.
Former UConn right-hander Matt Barnes (Wareham ’11) is one of the top pitching prospects in the Red Sox organization after going 7-5 in 2012 with a sparkling 2.85 ERA between low and high Single A and topped out at 98 MPH with his fastball. Ranked as third top CCBL prospect in 2010, he’s expected to start season at Class AA Portland in April.
Another top power pitcher in the Boston minor leagues is 6’7” right-hander Anthony Ranaudo, who compiled a 3-0 record with a perfect 0.00 ERA in before shutting it down before the All-Star break for Brewster in 2010 .
Two other former CCBL All-Stars enjoying excellent springs are infielder Kolton Wong and slugging outfielder George Springer. Wong, a Cape League MVP for Orleans in 2010 after hitting .341 with 22 stolen bases, is hitting .316 with one homer and three RBI for St. Louis after .287 last season for the Springfield Cardinals in the Texas League. Springer, who hit .261 with three homers and 25 RBI for Wareham in 2009, is batting .333 with two of his four hits goin’ yard for the Houston Astros. Las summer, the UConn product batted .302 with 24 homers and 87 RBI combined with Lancaster and Corpus Christi.
Fire-balling southpaw Chris Sale (YD ’07-’08) progressed from phenom to staff ace for the Chicago White Sox after posting a team-best 17-8 record with a 3.05 ERA and 192 strikeouts after making transition from the bullpen.
Another pitching ace in the AL who played in the Cape League is Cleveland’s Justin Masterson, who toiled for Wareham in the pitching-rich 2005 season. The side-arming right-hander compiled an 11-15 mark with a 4.95 ERA and a team-leading 159 K’s last summer.