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Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Jackie Bradley Jr., the new on-base machine

04.27.12 at 11:23 am ET

Just two Red Sox affiliates played on Thursday, as both Pawtucket and Portland got a night off. …



— The Red Sox were in position to take Jackie Bradley Jr. with the No. 40 overall pick in the draft only because he struggled both in terms of performance and health as a junior for South Carolina. The MVP of the 2010 College World Series endured an offensive downturn in 2011, hitting just .247/.346/.432 with six homers, marks that were down quite a bit from his prior college performance, and he missed a significant chunk of the season after a mid-season wrist injury.

But his outstanding center field defense remained intact, and the team remained convinced that he was a center fielder with some decent pop (perhaps double-digit or so home run power) and a good approach at the plate, with a good chance to be a starting center fielder in the big leagues.

To date, he is more than living up to expectations. He has played stellar defense in Salem, showing tremendous defensive range, while offensively, he has given every indication to date that 2011 was an aberration. Bradley went 4-for-4 on Thursday, and has now reached base at least once in 16 of his 17 games, and at least twice in 12 contests. Though he hasn’t hit for much power yet (six extra-base hits, no homers), his approach has been tremendous. He is hitting .371 with a remarkable .476 OBP, and Bradley has now been on base 38 times thus far this year, most in the Red Sox system.

It has been, in short, a very impressive start.

Xander Bogaerts blasted his second homer of the year, and now has six extra-base hits in his last seven games, and his .523 slugging percentage in a league that tends to suppress power underscores his remarkably advanced ability to drive the ball against older competition at the age of 19.

— Starter Miguel Celestino allowed one run on five hits in six innings, walking none and striking out three. The big right-hander, acquired as a player to be named in the deal that sent Casey Kotchman to the Mariners in 2011, has shown an intriguing ability to use a mid-90s fastball to get plenty of bad contact. He had nine groundball outs on Thursday.



Garin Cecchini collected one hit in four at-bats, but the prospect’s day was almost more notable for the fact that he committed his first error of the year. When he entered the system, there were questions about whether Cecchini would indeed have the defensive tools to stay at third base, and he committed 10 errors in just 26 games at third with Lowell last year. So, the fact that he did not commit his first error of the year until his 15th game at third base suggests that the considerable work he’s invested into improving at the position is paying off in mechanical improvements.

Bryan Johns, signed by the Sox as an undrafted free agent out of Vanderbilt last year, walked twice in four plate appearances. In 12 games, the 23-year-old has walked 13 times, helping him to a .480 OBP that is tops in the Red Sox system.

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