By Jared Perkins
I don’t think I tried to get people to buy a one-way ticket on the hype train more than I did for outfield prospect Tucker Bradley. While covering High-A Central for Prospects1500 this year, I noticed Bradley as soon as he was called up from Low-A Columbia. He took the league by storm and really jumped high onto my radar.
Georgia’s head coach Scott Stricklin felt that Bradley was a big-league talent even when he was recruiting him out of Gordon Lee High School in Georgia. He was off to one of the hottest starts in the NCAA in 2020. Unfortunately, COVID-19 cut the college baseball season short and Major League Baseball only held a five-round amateur draft. The redshirt junior appeared in 18 games and hit .397 with three doubles, six home runs, and 23 3BI for the Georgia Bulldogs that year. To go along with that, he also stole 8 of 9 bags while reaching base safely in all 18 games.
Over his entire career at Georgia, Bradley played in 119 games and started 115 of them. He batted .316 with 14 doubles, one triple, nine home runs, and 62 RBI while stealing 27 of 33 bags. He also threw off the mound where he posted a 2.25 ERA in 10 relief appearances with 17 strikeouts in 12 innings. While he of course won’t pitch in Kansas City, it was obvious that his bat is a legit threat. There wasn’t a doubt in many people’s minds that if the entire NCAA season was played out, Bradley would have been drafted somewhere in the top 5 rounds.
Success in the Pros
Bradley hit the ground running in Low-A where he played 8 games and slashed .348/.500/.391 with 3 RBI, 4 BB, and 3 SB. He was quickly promoted to High-A where he finished off the season with the Quad Cities River Bandits helping them claim the High-A Central Championship. Bradley kept raking in High-A and finished the season hitting .280 with 19 doubles, five triples, six home runs, 45 RBI, and 12 SB. These numbers led him to being in the top 10 in OPS in the entire Royals organization at #9.
You just see a professional hitter when you watch Bradley at the plate. He just has a tendency to do a lot of things right and has a unique ability to hit the ball to all parts of the field. His advanced hit tool is seen by his 20.5% strikeout rate and 11.8% walk rate. He shows a good ability to be patient at the plate and get on base. When I watched him at the plate this season, all I could see was Alex Gordon in the way he swings the bat. I know, I know. Alex Gordon is a very lofty comparison, but when you dive into his defensive numbers, it gets even better. He had a .970 fielding percentage and only committed two errors. His athleticism and speed in the outfield helps him track down balls most might not be able to.
2022 will be a big year in development for Bradley. I expect him to start in Double-A as he will be turning 24. Unfortunately, like so many from the 2020 draft, he lost a full year of professional development. I am still a believer in his hit tool and his ability to become a Major Leaguer. He might be the biggest steal the Royals got from the class of 2020 undrafted players that they signed.
Photo Credits: Josh Franzen (@BanditsPhotog)