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.”