Jackie Bradley Jr.‘s feet might be too big for Jacoby Ellsbury‘s shoes.
There’s a good chance that the Red Sox will open up the 2014 season with Bradley as their starting center fielder now that Ellsbury has joined the Yankees. While there could be a transition period for Bradley, the 23-year-old outfielder has shown enough promise during his young baseball career to make believers out of many experts.
MLB.com’s Jim Callis is among those who have faith in Bradley’s ability to replace Ellsbury. Callis said recently on WEEI’s Minor Details podcast that he thinks Bradley might actually end up being a better player than Ellsbury, who just inked a seven-year, $153 million contract with New York, largely because of Bradley’s defensive prowess and power potential.
“I think Jackie’s ceiling is pretty high,” Callis said. “I think he’s a potential Gold Glove center fielder. I think he’s going to be a high on-base guy. And I think he’s going to be a 10-15 home run guy. I actually think, he’s not as fast as Jacoby Ellsbury, but I don’t think there’s really any question, I think he’s a better defender than Jacoby Ellsbury — and Jacoby’s pretty good. He’s not going to steal as many bases as Jacoby, but in the long run, I think he can have a higher on-base percentage than Jacoby. And with the exception of that one 32-home run year, he might have a little more pop than Jacoby. I know this sounds crazy, and it’s not a lock, but I think he can be a better player than Jacoby Ellsbury in the long run.”
We won’t know for a few years how Bradley stacks up with Ellsbury, but the fact that he’s in the same conversation from a talent standpoint shows exactly why the Red Sox are comfortable handing the reins to their young up-and-comer as soon as this season.