How Tech’s Bradley went from so-so to first-round pick

In 2007, 3 1/2 years before he became the 15th overall pick in the 2011 major league draft, Jed Bradley was a lightly-regarded high school prospect who’d just moved to Huntsville, Ala., from Michigan. In the early fall of his senior year, Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall got a call from a coach at Bradley’s school (Huntsville High) who was (and presumably still is) a Tech football fan. He suggested Bradley would be worth looking at in a prospect camp.

Hall made some reconnaissance calls back to Michigan, where he has ties.

“None of them said that they were recruiting him,” Hall said. “They said, ‘If he was in our state, we’d probably take him,’ but it wasn’t a guy they got all excited about.”

Bradley showed up at Russ Chandler Stadium for a workout. Hall liked what he saw immediately. He was tall (6-4) and left-handed to begin with. He had good mechanics and decent velocity.

From having recruited and coached in the Midwest, Hall knew that “if a pitcher’s got size and his arm works pretty good – and Jed’s arm worked pretty good – you knew the more he played, his velocity was going to pick up.”

Tech made an offer of a partial scholarship that day. Bradley accepted soon after.

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

Said Hall, “There’s no question about it.”

As Hall mentioned in the story in Tuesday’s paper, though, Bradley deserves credit for transforming himself from a lightly-recruited (and undrafted) high school pitcher into the second left-handed pitcher taken in the draft. That accomplishment is not insignificant.

In 2008, major league teams determined there were at least 1,504 better pro prospects (the number taken in the draft) than Bradley. In three years’ time, Bradley had reduced the number to 14.

Of the first 11 college pitchers taken Monday, eight were drafted out of high school, ranging from the first round to the last (50th), and it can be assumed many would have been picked higher if they weren’t intent on going to college. Vanderbilt’s Sonny Gray, for instance, was taken in the 27th round but was ranked the No. 52 draft prospect by Baseball America.

Of the three, including Bradley, who weren’t drafted, one enrolled early at UCLA (No. 3 pick Trevor Bauer), taking himself out of that year’s draft.

Said Hall of Bradley, “He’s a tireless worker.”

Hall also doled out kudos to pitching coach Tom Kinkelaar, who now has mentored first-round picks in back-to-back drafts, Deck McGuire and Bradley. (This is unrelated, but it is amazing to me that seven years ago Kinkelaar was a high school basketball coach in North Carolina.) Mark Pope will likely go high Tuesday as the draft completes rounds 2-50. Buck Farmer and closer Luke Bard could be a top prospect next year and Matthew Grimes the year after. Farmer was taken in the 46th round by the Braves in 2009; Grimes in the fourth round by the Chicago White Sox in the fourth in 2010.

Said Hall, “We’re not only excited for the players but excited for our program and again, I think it says a lot about Coach Kinkelaar.”

11 comments Add your comment

juvenal

June 7th, 2011
12:41 pm

Thomas Bosco

June 7th, 2011
12:44 pm

If Jed Bradley is cut from the same cloth as his Dad, the Brewers not only have a great pitching prospect but a fine gentleman as well.

collegeballfan

June 7th, 2011
1:02 pm

I love this story – from not making the top 1504 to making the top 15.

Ken Sugiura

June 7th, 2011
2:40 pm

thanks, collegeballfan.

techie

June 7th, 2011
4:01 pm

i love this story also, story of how danny hall continues to lead top talent into postseason failure

ACC Fan

June 7th, 2011
6:59 pm

Great story and proud of Jed Bradley. Good coaching (especially from pitching coach). Tech needs better head coaching on how to fully utilize their pitching talent in game situations.

Jesse28

June 7th, 2011
9:49 pm

Right, because it’s Halls fault that the fielders allowed five unearned runs. Yes, I know Smelter allowed the first because of a wild pitch, but that also can’t really be put on Hall because he was out of pitching options considering Popes strained oblique and having to pitch Grimes what amounts to a full game in the opener against Austin Peay.

At some point it’s up to the players to perform. The bats were extremely flat in the opener and failed to come through in the end game as well. Look at how many runners were left on base throughout this Regional.

Tony

June 7th, 2011
10:21 pm

Hall had other options for starters. But he choose a young man that had pitched a total of 8 or 9 innings all year. I agree the defense let then down but what else is new. Skole can’t catch a cold but Hall apparently can’t find a better 3rd baseman. If we don’t have a better one what will happen next year if someone takes a flyer on him. He hit a few home runs but most of them won’t make it out of major league parks especially using a wood bat and he has no speed. I don’t understand why everybody thinks he is so great.
Had Hall put his best players on the field in the midweek games and played to win we could have had a national seed and may have still been playing. But when you lose to Mercer, Ga State Kennesaw State and Ga Southern you don’t deserve a national ranking and really shouldn’t have had a regional. Hall should be told either play to beat the instate schools or don’t put them on the schedule. Beat them or be fired.

Frank Hall

June 8th, 2011
7:55 am

The 2012 season should be the real acid test for Coach Hall’s coaching and leadership ability. Will the potential of this season’s freshman class convert to performance? Will he make fundamentals the top priority? Catching, throwing, executing the sac bunt, hitting with RISP, all were lacking down the home stretch, and made the difference in a number of games. Practice hard this Fsll, Jackets!

Taco

June 8th, 2011
8:44 am

Come on D Hall, we don’t have any more years for excuses about why we didn’t advance. One more first round loss for any reason and I think you should lay on your sword and move along. Don’t be a Paul Hewitt and drag this out till the bitter end. You get all the talent you need and now you need to bring us a trophy or at least sniff one next year. The sand is almost out of the hourglass.

Tim

June 9th, 2011
8:36 am

Wasn’t this blog about Jed? Congrats to a kid who knew what he wanted in the eighth grade, started working, and hasn’t stopped since. He’s grown into a man who isn’t full of himself and knows he has to work hard to take full advantage of the gifts he’s been given. Keep your head Jed! There is great stuff in store for you!