Over the Labor Day holiday weekend the Cleveland Indians continued their dominance of the Arizona Rookie League at Goodyear Ballpark. They handily beat the Texas Rangers Rookie League team in the Semi-Final game only to absolutely spank the Rookie League Giants 14-0 in the Championship Game.
The Rookie League Indians had 4 of the top 10 sluggers in the whole league. The Rookie League season is divided into two halves. In the second half the Indians were so dominant they had a record of 20-2 at one point and finished the complete season in first with a 37-16 record.
One of the biggest contributors to the Indians becoming Rookie League Champions was first baseman Bobby Bradley. Bobby was awarded the Rookie League MVP and also took the Triple Crown in the Rookie League this year with the most home runs, RBI’s and highest batting average. After the Indians big Semi-Final victory he was gracious enough to have a conversation on the field with me.
MB: You were drafted right out of high school, and are currently 18. How much different is Rookie League than high school?
BB: “It is completely different, the pitching is much better.”
MB: How so?
BB: “The fastball velocity is much faster. The difference in the off-speed pitches from the fastball is greater too.” He paused for a minute or so to sign an autograph then he continued, ” In fact, it took me a few weeks to actually get adjusted.”
MB: So it took you a little time to get adjusted, yet you won the Triple Crown in the Rookie League this year. What did it feel like to win that award?
BB: “There was no better feeling in the world,” he exclaimed as his face lit up with joy as though he was re-living the moment in his mind.
MB: I know you finished the 53 game season with 8 home runs, 50 RBI’s and a .361 batting average to capture the Triple Crown. But, is there anything you need to work on to improve your game?
BB: “My defense.”
MB: Your defense at first base?
BB:” Not only at first base, but I have played third base and catcher as well.” I move back so he can pose for a couple of pictures with some young fans, and without even losing a beat he continues. “One of those positions will hopefully get me to the big leagues, so I must be equal at all three.”
MB: Of the three Triple Crowns, which one are you the most proud of obtaining this season?
BB: “Most definitely the RBI’s. Because they usually come in key situations and therefore contribute to a team win.”
MB: Were you aware your RBI total this year was the most in the past five years of the Rookie League?
BB: “I was not, but that is pretty cool.”
And with that I thanked him for his time and we agreed to meet up again as he advanced through the ranks of the minor leagues and hopefully to major league baseball.