With Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum approaching the final year of their contracts, the Milwaukee could be heading for a time of transition for their starting rotation. After drafting right-hadner Taylor Jungmann and lefty Jed Bradley in the 2011 MLB Draft to team with Wily Peralta, the Brewers are ready for whatever happens next. Today we’ll look at the Pitch F/X data we have on Jed Bradley and see just how good he could be.
The scouting report on Bradley, a lefty, entering the draft was that he threw an easy low-90’s fastball from his 6’4″, 225 frame that features run towards righty batters and late sinking action, and he also threw a two-seam fastball that variates between sink and cut. Bradley’s fastballs were enough for him to dominate opposing pitchers as an amateur, but in his junior year, he started throwing his secondary pitches, a slider and changeup, more in earnest. Bradley’s slider at his best showed dynamic late downward movement although other times it flattened out and was ineffective, while his changeup has shown plus potential as well by mimicking the movement on his fastball with excellent late sink. Let’s compare what we at least thought we knew with Bradley’s Pitch F/X data from the Arizona Fall League that we’re able to get from Brooks Baseball. We’ll display the data on one of my original Pitch F/X graphs.
(For a general explanation of the topic of Pitch F/X and specifically how to read this type of graph, please click here.)
It’s easy to see why Bradley is such a highly touted prospect. Bradley’s fastball touches 93 MPH with nice late sink and run towards righty batters, but its best use is to set up his sinker and changeup. Bradley actually controlled his sinker a little better than his fastball, and it forced swings-and-misses along with weak contact thanks to its substantial run and also sharp late movement. His changeup, meanwhile, looked much improved from this sample, featuring a 10 MPH differential from his fastball and similar action to his fastball before disappearing of the table with outstanding late sink. Bradley had some trouble locating it, but according to Brooks he got a swing-and-miss a gaudy 25% of the times he threw it. If Bradley can learn to locate his changeup with that type of acute movement, it could be an outstanding pitch for him. And then there’s the matter of Bradley’s slider. His slider suffers a little bit because it has a slightly different arm slot from the remainder of his pitches, but it featured impressive enough late downward movement to force whiffs and weak contact. The big problem is that Bradley has been unable to sell his slider down out of the zone because he has had too much trouble locating it for a strike for hitters to chase it. Bradley used his slider sparingly in this sample, but it has shown promise and Bradley will continue to work to perfect it.
Bradley probably has number two starter or even ace upside, but he has some issues to deal with before he reaches that level. He has to improve his control and command on his fastball and on his breaking pitches. He also has to continue working to get the type of movement that can simply overwhelm hitters. Bradley could have four legitimate plus pitches and once he gets everything right, he could team with Jungmann and Peralta for a dominant young top three in the Brewers rotation. Bradley entered the 2011 Draft as somewhat raw for a college product and there’s still risk associated with him, but he could end up being an incredible value at 15th overall in the draft.
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