Tucker Bradley: A Name to Know

Tucker Bradley isn’t a name a lot of Royals fans know but he is a player worth getting to know.  Bradley is currently in Northwest Arkansas hitting at the top of their lineup and playing left field every day.  I’ve compared Bradley to Andrew Benintendi a lot in my mind as of late.  

Bradley was an undrafted free agent out of Georgia in 2020.  He signed for $20,000 and didn’t make his professional debut until 2021 when he started the season in Columbia as a Firefly.  Bradley did not stay long in South Carolina as he moved up after just eight games to Quad Cities.  Bradley finished the season in Quad Cities and started 2022 in Northwest Arkansas.  

Alright, let’s get to the comparisons with Benintendi.  Bradley is left-handed, hits at the top of the order, plays the same position, and has a very similar approach to hitting.  Bradley rarely overswings, uses his hands extremely well making good contact consistently, can steal a base or two, doesn’t strike out a ton, plays above average defense, and has a strong enough arm to play on the other side of the outfield if needed.  Bradley does not hit the ball out of the park that often, but he does have 27 extra base hits in 87 games.  Of those extra base hits, seven have been home runs including one opposite field grand slam. 

Tucker Bradley is a player from Northwest Arkansas that you need to know. Image from the NWA Naturals website and taken by Alan Jamison.

Bradley’s approach to hitting is simple.  He hits the ball wherever it is pitched.  If you throw him a change up away, he’ll hit it to left field.  If you throw him something in the middle of the plate, he’ll use a gap to gap approach or hit it right over the mound.  If you pitch him inside, he’ll pull the ball hard.  Bradley simply uses his hands to make good solid contact and drive the ball when he can.  It’s a simple swing, and a great approach.  

Bradley can play the small ball game.  He bunts for hits and he bunts to move runners over.  He has great bat control so he can hit and run although the Royals organization doesn’t do that often.  But Bradley has that ability to steal a base as well.  Now, he isn’t as fast as Bobby Witt, Jr. but no one is.  (Fun fact: BWJ is the #1 ranked baserunner by speed in MLB according to Baseball Savant.)  Bradley has stolen 13 bases and been caught 5 times this season.  He is on pace to steal 20+ bases and hit double digit home runs plus about 30 doubles.  I mean, we’d all take that season.  

Bradley is an above average defender in the outfield.  I imagine him as a left fielder but he can play right and probably center in a pinch.  Bradley reads the ball very well off the bat and runs good routes with good angles.  He gets to the ball quickly and makes good throws.  There are no issues with Bradley’s defense.  

Now, Bradley still has a lot of work to do before he is ready for the major leagues.  Bradley needs to hit left-handed pitching better.  He needs to find a way to increase his power against left-handed pitching as well on top of that.  Bradley is on pace for 100 strikeouts so that’s something he needs to cut down on but he is also on pace to walk almost 70 times.  If he can cut that strikeout number and maintain the walk rate, he’ll be a very tough out.  

All in all, Bradley has been a great signing for the Royals as an undrafted free agent.  He has a few things he needs to clean up before he is a finished product, but Bradley has good promise and potential.  He is producing at a high level in Double-A.  If he can continue to improve, I don’t see why there isn’t a spot for him at some point in left field in Kauffman Stadium.  It’s not something that needs to be rushed because they still have two years before they have to make a roster decision on him and he’s already at Double-A.  Remember, they’ll always find a place for you to play if you can hit, which Bradley is doing.  

Image from the NWA Naturals website taken by Alan Jamison.

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