01 Feb

winter’s classic

The star attraction in the Caribbean Series — the seven-team international event that begins today in Miami — is National League MVP Ronald Acuna Jr., who’ll play for his native Venezuela. Among the other current and former big leaguers dotting the rosters is Bobby Bradley, the ex-Harrison Central High star who’ll play for Mexico. Bradley hit .281 with three homers and 19 RBIs in a short stint with Monterrey in the Mexican Pacific League this season. The power-hitting first baseman has belted 216 homers in his nine-year pro career, including 17 in the big leagues with Cleveland. He hit 30 for Charleston in the independent Atlantic League last summer. Mexico opens round-robin play today against Curacao. Acuna, a former Mississippi Braves standout who hit .337 with 41 homers, 106 RBIs and 70 steals for Atlanta in 2023, will lead Venezuela against the Dominican Republic tonight in what ought to be a rousing affair. (ESPN-plus is carrying all the games.) On the D.R. roster is Jairo Asencio, who racked up 28 saves as the closer for the Southern League champion M-Braves in 2008, when he was known as Luis Valdez. Other notable M-Braves alumni on the rosters: Christian Bethancourt (now with the Miami Marlins) will play for Panama, Andrelton Simmons for Curacao and Jonathan Morales for Puerto Rico. P.S. On the home front today, William Carey University hosts Missouri Baptist; Blue Mountain Christian welcomes Lane College; and Southeastern Baptist (of Laurel) visits Southern-New Orleans to launch the season for the state’s four-year colleges.

11 Jun

good to see

Bobby Bradley will hit bombs. That we know. The former Harrison Central High star hit 180 home runs in eight seasons in affiliated ball, and he has 14 — tied for the league lead — in his first season in the independent Atlantic League. What is a little different this year for the 27-year-old Bradley has been his ability to put the ball in play. He went 3-for-4 (with a homer) in a 9-8 win by the Charleston Dirty Birds on Saturday and raised his average to .288. He has a .362 on-base average, a .667 slug. High strikeout totals (and defensive limitations) were Bradley’s big issue in affiliated ball. He punched out more than a thousand times in 820 games. In his last MLB stint with Cleveland in 2022, he hit .118 with nine strikeouts in 17 at-bats before being shipped to the minors and ultimately released. He has fanned 36 times in 37 games (132 at-bats) for Charleston. Atlantic League pitching isn’t bad; there are a lot of veteran arms around the circuit. Bradley, primarily a first baseman, has shown defensive versatility by playing some left field this year. Whether he has a path back to affiliated ball, who knows? But it’s good to see the once-highly rated prospect having some success again. P.S. Lance Berkman, the former Jackson Generals standout, was somehow bypassed for inclusion in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, but he has been named to the Cape Cod League Hall of Fame, no minor honor. The star-studded college summer league, which began its centennial season on Saturday, named its 2023 class on Friday. Berkman hit a league-best .352 for Wareham in 1996. Two years later, after being drafted in the first round out of Rice by Houston, Berkman had a big year for the Double-A Gens, hitting .306 with 24 homers and 89 RBIs. He was a six-time All-Star and a World Series champ in the majors, finishing with a .293 career average over 15 seasons.

14 Apr

whatever happened to …

Bobby Bradley, the erstwhile big leaguer from Gulfport, has signed with the Charleston (W.Va.) Dirty Birds of the independent Atlantic League. The lefty-hitting slugger, 26, was Cleveland’s opening day first baseman in 2022 but wound up being released out of the minors last August. Bradley was drafted in the third round out of Harrison Central High in 2014 and was ranked among Cleveland’s top prospects during his climb to the majors. He debuted in 2019. But he didn’t make enough consistent contact to stick in The Show, batting just .199 with 17 homers in parts of three seasons. He hit .246 with 163 homers and 539 RBIs in the minors, belting 33 homers in Triple-A in 2019. Many former big leaguers populate Atlantic League rosters, and Mississippi natives Stan Cliburn and Barry Lyons are managers in the league. The season starts April 28. Don’t be surprised if Bradley is among the league home run leaders.

07 Aug

one door closes …

It was a hard fall for Bobby Bradley. Cleveland’s opening day first baseman, the Gulfport native was anchored to the bench by late April, outrighted to the minors in May and then released from Triple-A Columbus on Saturday. He was hitting .174 with seven homers and 30 RBIs — plus 74 strikeouts in 167 at-bats — for the Clippers. Guardians officials decided “maybe a change of scenery would be good for the kid,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona told cleveland.com. Bradley, just 26, figures to catch on somewhere. A lefty hitter with big power — 163 minor league homers since 2014 — he has some value. Drafted in the third round out of Harrison Central High, he rose fairly steadily in the Cleveland system. He debuted in the big leagues in 2019 and was Cleveland’s regular first baseman the latter half of 2021. But he hit just .208 with 16 homers last year and struck out way too much. P.S. Mike Mayers, veteran reliever out of Ole Miss, was brought back from the minors by the Los Angeles Angels and threw 3 1/3 shutout innings Saturday in the team’s loss to Seattle in Game 1 of a doubleheader. It was his first MLB appearance since May 25. He had a 5.40 ERA when he was designated for assignment. … Hayden Dunhurst, catcher for national champion Ole Miss this year, is 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI and three walks in his first two pro games. The sixth-round pick is playing for Kansas City’s Arizona Complex League team. … Former Madison Central (and current Stanford) star Braden Montgomery has been a key player for Yarmouth-Dennis in the Cape Cod League. Montgomery hit .250 with four homers and 19 RBIs and posted a 2.25 ERA in three pitching appearances in the regular season. He got the win in relief for the Y-D Red Sox in their CCBL playoff opener.

02 May

not a surprise

It was easy to see this coming: Bobby Bradley, the ex-Harrison Central High star, was designated for assignment today by Cleveland. The once-touted power prospect had barely played for the Guardians this season, going 2-for-17 with nine strikeouts. Perhaps another club will make a waiver claim on the 26-year-old first baseman and give him a fresh start. Bradley had an uneven 2021 season in Cleveland (.208, 16 homers) but went into spring training as the expected starter at first base. But a poor spring and the emergence of Owen Miller and Josh Naylor relegated Bradley to the bench. He has 156 homers over seven minor league seasons, including 33 in Triple-A in 2019. That’s tantalizing power that some organization might take a chance on. … Former Petal High standout Anthony Alford, DFA’d last week by Pittsburgh, cleared waivers and elected free agency. The oft-injured Alford, 27, has batted .209 with eight homers over parts of six MLB seasons split between Toronto and the Pirates. His future looks cloudy at best.

01 Apr

spring cleaning

It certainly looks as if Bobby Bradley will open the season as Cleveland’s first baseman. How long he’ll hold the job isn’t so certain. Bradley, the former Harrison Central High star, had a poor second half in 2021 and has not perked up in spring training. “He’s not swinging the bat very well,” Guardians manager Terry Francona told cleveland.com in a story published Thursday, before Bradley got a couple of hits against Seattle in a Cactus League contest. “I don’t know (if) that means he won’t.” Bradley, 25, is batting .200 with no homers or RBIs this spring. He hit .208 with 16 homers and 99 strikeouts in 245 at-bats last season, his second stint in the majors. His minor league power numbers were impressive; the strikeout totals not so much. “It’s too early to give up on Bradley,” writes Terry Pluto for cleveland.com. But that time may come if things don’t change. … In that same Thursday game in Peoria, Ariz., Mississippi State alum Adam Frazier banged out two more hits as the Mariners’ new leadoff batter. Acquired from San Diego in the off-season, the All-Star second baseman is batting .474 this spring. Frazier is optimistic that Seattle’s 20-year postseason drought will end in 2022. “Take care of business each day and I think we’ll be there at the end,” he told seattlesports.com. P.S. After punching out the only batter he faced, Ocean Springs native Garrett Crochet left a Chicago White Sox game Thursday with an apparent arm injury. The flame-throwing lefty reliever has a 2.08 ERA this spring and registered 14 holds with a 2.82 as a key bullpen piece for the ChiSox last season. … Hunter Renfroe, the ex-State star from Crystal Springs, is getting work at first base with Milwaukee, his new team. Renfroe had 16 outfield assists with Boston in 2021. … Former Ole Miss standout Drew Pomeranz, a lefty reliever recovering from elbow surgery, will start the season on the 60-day injured list for San Diego.

10 Jul

walk it off

He has mashed 167 home runs in his pro career, but Friday night’s bomb was unique for Bobby Bradley. The ex-Harrison Central High star from Gulfport hit his first career walk-off homer, lifting Cleveland to a 2-1 victory against Kansas City. Bradley, 25, in his second big league season, did a modest bat flip as the line drive sailed out to right-center at Progressive Field. He was mobbed at home plate by his teammates, who were celebrating their second straight walk-off win after a nine-game skid. “Everybody was pumped up and beating me up a little bit and throwing water everywhere,” Bradley told mlb.com. “It’s awesome.” The article said it was Bradley’s first walk-off homer at any level, though it’s hard to imagine he didn’t hit one at Harrison Central. The left-handed hitting first baseman has 10 homers in 100 at-bats this season, which is an amazing ratio even for a small sample size. He has 11 in 145 MLB at-bats overall, one per 13.2 ABs. Mark McGwire’s career record is 10.6. Babe Ruth had an 11.7, Barry Bonds a 12.9. Bradley has 156 minor league homers (one every 16 ABs) since 2014, when the Indians drafted him in the third round out of high school. That’s a special kind of power. P.S. Former Mississippi State star Brandon Woodruff is slated to pitch Sunday for Milwaukee, which means he can’t pitch in Tuesday’s All-Star Game. He has been replaced on the National League roster by teammate Freddy Peralta, another Biloxi Shuckers alumnus. … Ex-Ole Miss standout Drew Pomeranz has returned to the injured list (forearm) for San Diego. Pomeranz, who missed most of May and June on the IL, has a 1.59 ERA in 18 relief outings.

06 Jun

there and here

Bobby Bradley, the former Harrison Central High slugger, was back in the big leagues on Saturday and doubled in his only at-bat as a pinch hitter for Cleveland. The lefty-hitting first baseman/DH made his MLB debut in 2019 but didn’t get the call last season. Sent to Triple-A Columbus despite a strong spring, he was hitting .196 with nine homers (and a 36 percent strikeout rate) when the Indians decided to give him another look after axing Jake Bauers. Bradley told cleveland.com that he feels no pressure: “I get to settle in and get comfortable and play my game.” Known affectionately as “The Assassin” at Columbus, where he hit 33 homers in 2019, Bradley could give the Indians some needed thump if he can cut down on the strikeouts. He’ll probably be in the lineup today at Baltimore. … Madison Central product Spencer Turnbull has landed on the 10-day injured list with a forearm strain. He is 4-2, 2.88 ERA for Detroit; one of the wins was a no-hitter. … Ex-Mississippi State standout Brent Rooker hit his seventh homer of the season and is batting .238 for Triple-A St. Paul in Minnesota’s system. Rooker was in the big leagues briefly in April. … LeDarious Clark, the East Mississippi Community College alum and former Texas Rangers minor leaguer, has four homers and a .320 average in nine games in the independent Atlantic League, now one of MLB’s new partner leagues. … Joe Gray Jr., the former Hattiesburg High star who was once a prized prospect in Milwaukee’s system, appears to be figuring some things out at Low-A Carolina. He blasted his ninth homer on Saturday and is at .291 with 34 RBIs. He is only 21. … After suffering three straight soul-crushing postseason losses, Southern Miss bounced back with a vengeance in a 21-0 win over Southeast Missouri State in the Oxford Regional. That gives the Golden Eagles another shot at Florida State in an elimination game today. FSU beat USM 5-2 on Friday, then lost to Ole Miss Saturday. … Hail to the MHSAA champs: Madison Central polished off Northwest Rankin for the Class 6A title, joining Saltillo (5A), West Lauderdale (4A), Booneville (3A), Taylorsville (2A) and Tupelo Christian (1A) in the winners’ circle.

23 May

on the flip side …

Bobby Bradley, the former Harrison Central High slugger, hit two home runs for Triple-A Columbus on Saturday, giving him six for the season. That’s tied for second-most in the Triple-A East. He drove in three runs and now has 15 RBIs, fourth-most in the league. That’s the good part. On the flip side: The 24-year-old first baseman, now in his eighth year of pro ball, has only 12 hits all told in 60 at-bats. He has struck out 22 times and drawn just six walks. While the Cleveland Indians are looking for production at first base, they may still not feel Bradley is ready to provide it. Bradley has been dialing up homers at a great rate over his seven minor league seasons. He has 153. He also hit one for the Indians during a brief call-up in 2019. It’ll be interesting to see when his next MLB opportunity comes. Clearly, just hitting bombs isn’t enough. … Bradley’s homers helped ex-Southern Miss star Kirk McCarty improve to 3-0, with a 2.66 ERA. He worked seven strong innings in the Clippers’ 5-3 win over Toledo. The 25-year-old left-hander might be closer to a call-up than Bradley.

09 Dec

comes a time

With Carlos Santana officially out of the picture, the first base job in Cleveland for 2021 is open. Former Harrison Central High star Bobby Bradley figures to get a shot in spring training but will face stiff competition. Bradley, Jake Bauers and Josh Naylor are all young, left-handed power hitters. Naylor, 23, acquired from San Diego last summer in the Mike Clevinger trade, is the only one of the three to play for the big league team in 2020. (He made a splash in the postseason, going 5-for-7 with a homer.) Bradley, 24, and Bauers, 25, spent the entire season in the Indians’ alternate camp. What that says about their status, who knows? Bradley, the Indians’ No. 13 prospect, is a decorated minor league player who has demonstrated big power with 147 home runs since 2014. He is a .254 hitter who strikes out a lot. And that can be a problem. In a brief MLB stint in 2019, he fanned 20 times in 45 at-bats while hitting one homer. Bradley is about to enter his eighth pro season. If he’s going to stick in the big leagues, 2021 has got to be the year, if not in Cleveland then somewhere else.