Bobby Bradley excited and ready to help Indians

The 23-year-old was all smiles on Sunday morning

James Rapien
June 23, 2019 - 12:19 pm

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Bobby Bradley was the happiest man in Ohio when he drove from Columbus to Cleveland on Saturday.

“It was awesome, I had to put it on cruise control, I couldn’t keep my foot off the gas,” Bradley said.

The 23-year-old got the call he had been waiting for – and he wasn’t the only one. Indians fans have been following the slugger for weeks, monitoring each home run he hit in Triple-A. Bradley finished with 24 homers, which led the International League.

He’s well aware of the support he’s received from the fan base.

“I would see it on Twitter. It’s kind of awesome to look at,” Bradley said. They’re just as excited as I am and I love it.”

Bradley got a good night of sleep on Saturday night and came in ready to work. He was eager to get to Progressive Field and get some work in prior to the game.

“It’s fun to see a kid this excited,” manager Terry Francona said. “He came in this morning and the rest of us are a little bit tired, and he came bouncing in this morning and said ‘I need some ground balls.’

The Indians selected Bradley in the third round of the 2014 draft. They’ve seen him move up the ranks, improve his swing and grow as a player and a person to reach this point.

“When you’ve kind of seen him from the baby steps, when he first signed. He’d come over and get an at-bat or two,” Francona said. “Now he’s trying to help a major league team win games. That’s pretty cool.”

Bradley earned the nickname ‘The Assassin’ after crushing so many baseballs in the minor leagues. The 225-pound slugger has embraced the nickname.

“I love it,” he said. “I had some teammates way back in 2014, when I first got drafted – a couple of Latin players called me ‘El Asesino.’ It kind of just stuck from there. I kind of kept it around. This year, it took off big time.”

Argenis Angulo, who’s made 26 relief appearances for Columbus this season, gave him the nickname.

Bradley couldn’t help but smile when talking about getting promoted to the Indians. The 23-year-old will have five family members and friends in attendance on Sunday, including his mother and two sisters.

His mom was the first person he called after he got the news.

“I called her and told her that I wasn’t playing that night and that I was going to be in Cleveland today,” Bradley said. “It took her a couple seconds to realize what I said. I had to repeat it a couple times. But then I just heard screaming through the phone. Her and my sisters were just the happiest people ever.”

They’ll get to see him play first base and hit seventh in the Indians’ lineup on Sunday.

The Indians have had concerns about Bradley’s weight in the past, but they feel comfortable with where he is physically.

“We had a pretty honest conversation with him when we sent him down because we thought he needed it,” Francona said. “He took it to heart. He looks good and like I said, he’s done all his defensive work and he’s got himself in a good place.”

Bradley’s 91 strikeouts are also concerning, but the Indians know that’s part of what makes him a power hitter – he’s looking to drive the ball, not hit ground balls.

“Guys that hit with that much power, there’s going to be some swing-and-miss,” Francona said.

Bradley knows he needs to continue to improve defensively and cut down on his strikeouts.

It’s easy to look at the power numbers – 24 homers and 55 RBI and say he’s ready for the big leagues, but his success is a testament to the maturation process he’s went through over the past few years.

“He’s maturing,” Francona said. “Like most 22-year-olds do, you start to grow up and that’s part of it. It’s probably unfair to ask an 18-year-old to act like a 25-year-old. That’s just not how it works.”

Bradley will alternate with Carlos Santana at first base, but the Indians will primarily use him as a designated hitter. The organization believes in Santana’s ability at first, which allows Bradley to DH and get plenty of pregame work in at first base so he can continue to improve defensively.

The Indians hope his growth this season is just the start of something special. The young slugger knows there's plenty of work ahead, but he's embracing the challenge.