Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/16/14

Jackie Bradley Jr.’s fantastic spring did not turn into April results. The highly-regarded Red Sox prospect was sent down to Triple-A Pawtucket following Thursday’s game after he managed just three hits and six walks in 38 plate appearances. It’s clear what Bradley needs to work on with his everyday at-bats at Pawtucket: hitting advanced changeups and curveballs. The incredible combination of command and movement major league pitchers possess on their breaking balls is one of the biggest challenges a rookie must deal with, particularly one like Bradley who hasn’t taken a single at-bat above Double-A. Indeed, Bradley’s biggest struggles came on curveballs and changeups. Observe, the 16 curveballs Bradley saw according to data from BrooksBaseball.net: Graphic from catcher’s point of view; L/R refer to pitcher hand Bradley’s zone recognition on the curveballs was excellent — he only swung at one demonstrably out of the strike zone and he took six balls. Plate discipline has always been noted as one of his best skills according to Baseball America ($), and Bradley’s six walks with Boston comes out to a sharp 15.8 BB%. But Bradley was unable to do anything against curveballs in the zone — he took three strikes, and of the eight curveballs he swung at, he put just two in play. He whiffed on four — 50 percent of swings, 23.5 percent of all pitches. Results on changeups were even worse for Bradley: Graphic from catcher’s point of view; L/R refer to pitcher hand Pitchers exhibited exceptional control on their changeups to Bradley. Just three of the 16 he saw missed the zone, and only one by more than a foot (not pictured, crossed well below the strike zone). He whiffed on three more in the strike zone, fouled off four more, and hit into three outs. His whiff rates — 37.5 percent per pitch and 46.2 percent per swing — were, as expected, awful. Bradley didn’t produce a single positive outcome on a single changeup or curveball in the strike zone. As a left-handed hitter, Bradley will enjoy the platoon advantage for much of his career, particularly against starting pitchers. As such, he should expect to see a steady diet of changeups and curveballs throughout his career — they exhibit the least significant platoon splits, especially when compared to fastballs and sliders. There is more to work on, as Bradley posted just a .209 wOBA in his short time at the major league level. But his results on fastballs (including two-seamers/sinkers) weren’t nearly so poor — he whiffed a relatively tame nine times out of 92 seen (9.7 percent) and notched one of his hits off hard stuff. Additionally, the slider wasn’t as problematic as the two platoon-killer soft pitches. Bradley recorded two hits off sliders and didn’t whiff once, although he only swung at five total. The left-handed batter in the major leagues must have the ability to handle changeups and curveballs, as he is liable to see each pitch from both sides of the plate. Bradley simply lacked experience against such well-refined changeups and curveballs as he saw in his short stint in the major leagues. By all accounts, Bradley’s pitch recognition and hit tools are tremendous. With some time to develop against more advanced soft stuff at the Triple-A level, Bradley can still develop into the kind of player who inspired so much hope this spring. Graphics made with Tableau Public

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: 49ers expect Jim Harbaugh to take Michigan job

Report: Johnny Manziel fined for being late to treatment

Duke Johnson's mother says son will enter NFL Draft

Starlin Castro questioned following nightclub shooting

Report: Jeff Driskel thinking about transfer to Duke

Browns suspend Josh Gordon for final game of season

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Rex Ryan has already cleaned out his office

Clint Trickett retires due to concussions, hid two

Drew Stanton likely out for the year, postseason included

Byron Scott: ‘Idiots’ think Lakers are better team without Kobe

Undrafted QB Connor Shaw to sign with Browns, likely start

Report: Alex Smith out Week 17 with lacerated spleen

Nebraska chancellor booed by Huskers players?

WATCH: Rory McIlroy trolled by 'Sweet Caroline' song

Auburn, Wisconsin players literally ate tons of food

Did Kobe Bryant respond to heckler with the rings count?

Doug Fister bought Starbucks for his Twitter followers

DeMarco Murray dumped over cheating accusations?

Video: Rudy Gay tosses half-court alley-oop to McLemore

WATCH: Craig Sager is touched by outpouring of support during leukemia fight

Hiroki Kuroda returns to Japan, ditches Yankees

Kevin Garnett: ‘Very weird’ to see Celtics without Rajon Rondo

Report: New Jersey Devils fire head coach Peter DeBoer

Mark Richt confirms Todd Gurley will leave UGA for NFL

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Nebraska chancellor booed by players?

Johnny Manziel fined by Browns

Castro questioned after shooting

Rory McIlroy trolled with 'Sweet Caroline'

Browns suspend Josh Gordon

Kobe gives heckler the rings count?

Murray dumped over cheating scandal?

Rex Ryan has cleaned out his office

Five breakout stars in 2014

The 2014 NFL All-Help Offense

Five things learned about NBA on X-Mas

What if Bear Bryant coached in the NFL?

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.