The Boston Red Sox took Jackie Bradley Jr. with the 40th pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, and they looked to have gotten a steal. An outfielder for South Carolina, Bradley entered the year as one of the top college position players in the draft. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, Bradley looks like he is returning to college for his senior season.
Disappointed with his draft position, Bradley has told his adviser (Scott Boras) that he is preparing to return to South Carolina and re-enter the draft next June.
Bradley was a likely first-round pick after being named the College World Series Most Outstanding Player in 2010, and was easily the best defensive college outfielder available this year. However, Bradley slid down some draft boards because he struggled on the field this season and suffered torn ligaments in his wrist. That caused his drop, despite the fact that he returned to the Gamecocks’ lineup for this year’s CWS and helped them win their second straight national title.
The natural reaction to this news would be to think Boras is just posturing and trying to secure first-round money for a guy who likely would have been a top-20 pick if healthy. Next year’s draft class is not as strong as this year’s, so if Bradley performs well as a senior, he could see himself come off the board much earlier. That said, returning to school in the stacked SEC would present a pretty big risk as well. A second straight disappointing season could see Bradley fall even further.
Time will tell if these are just typical Boras tactics, or if Bradley really does feel he can improve his position.