Jackie Bradley Jr. has spent most of 2014 struggling at the plate, and the Red Sox have seen enough for now. On Monday, they promoted Mookie Betts to the majors once more, but this time, optioned Bradley down to Pawtucket to make room. ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes broke the news on Monday afternoon.
The move will have its supporters, as Betts has been tearing up Triple-A like he's done to every other minor-league level he's spent any time in over the last almost two years, while Bradley has been a mess in the majors over the same stretch. It's fair to wonder, though, if keeping Bradley up to give him as much time as possible to work against major-league pitching made more sense for a team whose 2014 is already over in any non-developmental sense.
Then again, maybe Bradley is just too lost at the plate at this point, and needs a two-week reset before rosters expand more than he needs to see big-league breaking balls in the same time frame. It's disappointing that it's come to that for a player who was widely regarded as one of the top 30 or 40 prospects in the game just two springs ago, but that's where his uninspiring offense has taken him to this point, and as just said, he'll be back in a couple of weeks.
As for Betts, he doesn't have Bradley's tremendous defense -- at least, not in the outfield -- and might never get to that level, either. At the plate, though, Betts has been absurd, and he's currently batting .335/.417/.503 as a 21-year-old in his first campaign at Triple-A. His bat could use the majors as much as Bradley's, but for a different reason, and he's a more highly regarded prospect than Bradley ever was thanks to few obvious holes in his game, even without that glove.
Will Bradley ever become a productive major-league hitter? It's difficult to say at this stage of his career, with so many struggles in his recent past. His glove is incredible, though, and if all he ends up being is a fifth outfielder who can improve Boston's looks on defense in the late innings, he'll have a use. That seems like a huge letdown given the talent he put on display in the minors, but prospects don't always develop as hoped. Let's see how he responds to this likely temporary demotion before giving up on him, though: it's unlikely the Sox have optioned him forever.