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Jul. 13, 2011 - Steve Garrity

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South Carolina outfielder Jackie Bradley is considering heading back to school for his senior season. Bradley was drafted by the Boston Red Sox 40th overall in the 2011 MLB Draft after a sub-par junior campaign. Heading into the 2011 season Bradley was ranked at or near the top of most publications for college position players. He could run, hit, defend, and even had serviceable power for an up-the-middle skill player. However, this year the train came off the tracks and he only hit around .240. With the implementation of a new bat throughout college baseball, that allowed scouts to get a better feel for his hitting at the next level, thus causing his stock to fall.

Now after helping the Gamecocks to their second consecutive National Championship, Bradley has said he is likely heading back to school instead of signing. The knee-jerk reaction would be to say this is a negotiating ploy by Bradley’s agent, Scott Boras. Boras is known for trying to get as much money as possible for his players no matter where they are drafted. Since Bradley was ranked as a top 20 talent heading into the season, odds are he is looking for that kind of money. The Boston Red Sox, the team who drafted Bradley, has had a long history of negotiating with Boras clients and are never afraid to pay above slot if need be. But 2011 is now known as one of the deepest classes in recent memory and Boston has three other first and supplemental round picks to think about, including high school catcher Blake Swihart, who could be one of the toughest signs in the draft. Bradley was certainly a steal at 40 but the Sox would still have a top 5 draft class without getting him into the season.

If this is not a negotiating ploy and Bradley is actually considering heading back to South Carolina there are a few things to consider. The 2012 class is not as deep as this year's crop but as a college senior he would be a little behind the eight ball as teams genuinely like underclassman better and 2012 is filled with solid high school bats. All eyes would be on him to see how he bounces back after an injury and such a sub-par hitting season. Major League Baseball commissioner, Bud Selig, is also looking to get hard slotting into the next draft, meaning Bradley most likely will not get as much money as he wishes if he is drafted in the late first or supplemental round again. This is a situation to pay attention to throughout the summer as it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Sox get back into it with Bradley and sign him by the deadline.