OMAHA, NE: Jackie Bradley, Jr. #19 of the South Carolina Gamecocks is congratulated by teammate Whit Merrifield #5 after scoring a first inning run against the UCLA Bruins during Game 1 of the men's NCAA College Baseball World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
As the Red Sox continue to stockpile their system with draft picks this week, let's take a look back at a few of last year's selections, as well as an international signing that continues to hit.
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Bradley was selected with the #40 pick in the 2011 draft, after the 2010 College World Series MVP had a down year at the plate caused by injuries, that in turn dropped his stock. Not to say that Deven Marrero is about to bust out like Bradley in 2013, but he fits the same mold as last year's final first-round selection: he's a top 10 talent who slipped due to a disappointing spring, and Boston just might have a talent they don't deserve that late in the first round because of it.
Just look at that slash line for a moment. Bradley's on-base percentage is well over 100 points ahead of his batting average, and that near-.600 slugging isn't due to his batting average entirely, thanks to a .200 Isolated Power. He needs to work on his basestealing, but his poor rates can be somewhat forgiven when you look at everything else he's doing right.
He's played in 53 games, and you have to think that he won't get many more than 60 under his belt at High-A before the Red Sox shuffle him to Double-A Portland. He hasn't slowed down even a little this season, and has a .436/.489/.667 line in his last 10 games. If anything, sticking around for too long might cause him to develop some god-complex bad habits that he'll need to break out of once he leaves.*
More walks than strikeouts, 30 extra-base hits in less than half-a-season -- Bradley doesn't have anything left to prove statistically at High-A.
Matt Barnes, SP
Through his first 60 innings of pro ball, Barnes has been flat-out ridiculous. He's striking out 10 times as many batters as he's walking. He has given up just the one homer. Just 48 of the 224 batters he has faced have reached base (21 percent), while he's struck out 81 others (36 percent).
Not everything is perfect at High-A Salem, even if his obvious success makes it hard to caution too loudly. He's not inducing ground outs at the same impressive rate as he did in Single-A, and while he has used his secondary stuff effectively, as with any pitcher with a fastball like his, the real challenge will come later on, most likely when he reaches Double-A.
That's not to say Barnes is going to all-of-a-sudden stop being productive the next time he gets a promotion. It's just a reminder that mowing down High-A hitters as a 22-year-old with a plus fastball isn't as impressive as it might look in terms of results. That being said, it's still pretty impressive, and because of this, it wouldn't be a shock to see Barnes finish the year after a second promotion in his first full-season of pro ball.
Xander Bogaerts, SS
Bogaerts might not have been drafted in 2011 (or at all), but that was when he burst onto the scene professionally. He hasn't shown off as much power as he did as an 18-year-old in Single-A, but that's to be expected: he's still just 19, in a league where the average hitter is 23 after rounding up.
There are plenty of good signs, too, even if he hasn't been going yard constantly. Bogaerts has played in just 20 fewer games than he did during all of 2011, and has cut his strikeout rate from 24 to 19 percent. Improving your strikeout rate after a promotion is difficult, and a great sign, even if his walk rate has dipped slightly in the process (it's still at seven percent, so it's not in the danger zone by any means).
Over his last 10 games, Bogaerts has started to show a bit more pop, hitting .350/.366/.550 with five doubles and a homer in 40 at-bats. It's not quite what we saw last year, but it's not as if his Single-A stint was perfect, either: there was room to improve his contact and doubles.
Bogaerts will likely spend the entire year here -- he could spend all of 2013 there as well, and still be plenty young for the level -- in order to acclimate himself to playing every day, as well as to sap every ounce of learning he can from the experience. There will be plenty of time for Double-A in 2013, and while that will be a heady assignment for a 20-year-old, he's shown himself able to cope with a promotion, even if he hasn't outright dominated. The rules for statistical results are very different for a player this young relative to the league.