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Bradley turns in finest start of 201306/04/2013 11:49 PM ET
By Ashley Marshall / Special to MLB.com
With the First-Year Player Draft just two days away, 2011 first-rounder Jed Bradley has been thinking a lot about his journey over the past week.
His conclusion? Time flies when you're living your dream.
"I was just thinking about that the other day," Bradley said. "It has flown, these two years. I hope they all don't go by this quickly, but it's been fun. It has been a journey and I'm looking forward to the rest of it."
On Tuesday, he savored every moment of his time on the mound.
Bradley allowed one run on three hits and two walks while striking out three batters over six innings in the Class A Advanced Brevard County Manatees' 3-2 win over the host Fort Myers Miracle.
The win helped Bradley (4-3) lower his ERA to 4.68 and it put him one win away from equaling his rookie total with two-thirds of the season to go.
"I pitched to my strengths and pounded the zone with a good two-seam [fastball] and I got a lot of ground balls," the 22-year-old left-hander said. "I've had some good starts this year, my last one was a good one. But as far as efficiency was concerned, this one was one of the best -- 72 pitches in six innings.
"I had a pretty good changeup and a good slider, a good three-pitch mix, but it was predominantly my two-seam fastball. Tonight my second-best pitch was my changeup, but so far this season, it has been my slider. It's been something I've been working hard on throughout the season."
The Brewers' No. 5 prospect set down the side in order in the first inning and he worked around consecutive baserunners to begin the second.
He used a double play to get out of trouble in the third after the first two batters reached base, and he retired nine of the following 10 batters before Miguel Sano broke his shutout bid with a one-out homer to right-center field in the sixth.
"He's a good hitter, you can't argue that," the Alabama native said of MLB.com's No. 11 prospect Sano, who extended his team lead to 14 homers. "I thought I handled him pretty well. I had him in an 0-1 count and I wanted to go back to back with my changeup. I left it up and he didn't miss it. It was definitely a good piece of hitting to take a changeup out to the opposite field."
Selected by the Brewers 15th overall in 2011, Bradley is pleased with the progress he has made since signing with Milwaukee.
Last year, he went 5-10 with a 5.53 ERA in 20 games with the Manatees. He struck out 60 batters and issued 43 walks over 107 1/3 innings, but he says he has improved all areas of his game.
"Holding runners on, varying my looks with runners on second base, fielding my position," Bradley said about where he has made the most growth. "If you have a weak link in your chain, that will be exposed at the next level.
"Last year, I had some physical issues, but I had to get better at pitching. I have definitely progressed and it is good to see the fruits of that progress. Typically you judge success by what you do against hitters. You can also judge it by how far you have progressed mentally and your mental preparation and by how far you have come physically, pure strength-wise."
Prior to turning pro, Bradley -- a Cape Cod League All-Star -- went 7-3 with a 3.49 ERA in 16 starts in his final college season. He still keeps in touch with his former teammates and he expects several current Yellow Jackets to hear their name called later this week.
"First day, I'm not sure, but Daniel Palka and Zane Evans will make a lot of noise," Bradley said. "Evans is a catcher, and even if he doesn't pan out as a catcher, he can hit 97 mph off the mound. Brandon Thomas went in the fourth round last year and didn't sign, but he's had a good year and I can see him going around the same spot. Kyle Wren will make some noise.
"I've talked with a few of those guys about [the Draft]. They had the same questions that I had because it's the first time they're going through it."
On Tuesday, Andre Lamontagne pitched a scoreless inning of relief despite allowing two hits and a walk, and Tommy Toledo earned his seventh save after giving up an unearned run on a pair of hits and two walks over the final two innings.
Fort Myers starter Jason Wheeler (5-1) surrendered three runs on nine hits over six innings. He struck out six batters and issued one free pass.