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

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Discussions to bring NFL team to L.A. are progressing

Report: Chris Mullin expected to take St. John's job

Michigan State beats Louisville, punches Final Four ticket

Ex-NHL player viciously attacks opponent before game

Rick Barnes a possibility for Tennessee coaching job?

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: NFL looking into Bill Belichick's camera ideas

Saints CB Brian Dixon arrested in Miami

CC Sabathia goes off about spring training stats

Kentucky remains unbeaten after thrilling win over ND

Alabama DT arrested on domestic violence charges again

John Calipari blasted for postgame interview

Jim Harbaugh finished fourth in student government election

WATCH: Notre Dame gets warm reception upon return home

WATCH: Kris Letang hospitalized after hit

Aaron Rodgers, sports writer get into it over on-court access

Sam Dekker's hot shooting sends Wisconsin to Final Four

Jim McElwain complains about Florida roster

Mark Few: I put Coach K up there with John Wooden

WATCH: Enes Kanter embraces boos in return to Utah

Mariners prospect dies from boat accident injuries

T.J. Ford sends heartfelt tweet about Rick Barnes

Bruins coach suits up as backup goalie

Tennessee fans show love for Bruce Pearl on campus rock

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.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Report: Chris Mullin to take St. John's job

Report: NFL looking into more cameras

CC Sabathia goes off about spring stats

John Fox: Cutler will have to earn job

Texas eyeing Shaka Smart, Gregg Marshall?

WATCH: Brady jumps off cliff in Costa Rica

WATCH: 2 Chainz beats Nique in HORSE

Elite Eight preview and predictions: Notre Dame vs. Kentucky

Elite Eight preview and predictions: Arizona vs. Wisconsin

NFL owners chose cost over game integrity

Be careful how loudly you cheer on Mo'ne Davis' olive branch

James Harden and the collective consciousness

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.