Indians invite Bradley to big league camp

Cleveland also sending Rodriguez, Shaffer, tribe of 'pen potential

Bobby Bradley tallied a .796 OPS in 131 Eastern League games last season. (Andy Grosh/MiLB.com)

By Kelsie Heneghan / MiLB.com | January 4, 2018 9:22 PM

While it's cold in Cleveland, the Indians are looking toward the warmer days.

The club has invited third-ranked prospect Bobby Bradley to Major League Spring Training, along with infielders Richie Shaffer and Nellie Rodriguez, and pitchers Louis Head, Josh Martin, Cole Sulser, Cameron Hill and Robert Zarate.

Bradley is coming off a big season in which he hit .251 with 23 homers and 89 RBIs for Double-A Akron. The 21-year-old first baseman cut his strikeouts down from 170 in 2016 to 122 in 2017 and continued to improve in the Arizona Fall League. It will mark Bradley's fourth time at big league camp, although he has yet to exceed eight at-bats during a spring campaign.

Tweet from @b_bradley_44: Blessed and excited for @Indians spring training 2K18! #GoTribe https://t.co/jMEkpWO8sv

After his selection in the first round of the 2012 Draft by the Rays, Shaffer has moved frequently. The 26-year-old was traded to the Mariners on Nov. 18, 2016, claimed by the Phillies a month later on Dec. 14, claimed by the Reds three days later and claimed by the Indians on Jan. 26, 2017. But after Shaffer put a uniform on, he delivered one of his best seasons.

The Clemson product led Triple-A Columbus with career highs of 30 homers and 89 RBIs while tallying an .802 OPS. Shaffer spent most of last season in left field, but also saw a lot of time at first base, third base and in right.

Rodriguez will return to Goodyear, Arizona after a tough sixth pro season. The 23-year-old batted .170/.271/.342 with the Clippers. Although he started out as a catcher, Rodriguez has been a first baseman since making his pro debut.

Offseason MiLB include

Leading the pack of relievers heading to camp will be righty Head, who topped Columbus relievers with 65 strikeouts while allowing 28 walks in 61 1/3 innings while notching a a 3.23 ERA. He finished with a 3-2 record and seven saves in 10 opportunities. Martin added a 3.25 ERA with 38 punchouts and eight walks in 36 frames while racking up four saves in six chances for the Clippers.

Sulser began the season in the Eastern League, but also was heavily relied upon at Triple-A. The right-hander went 3-1 with three saves in four opportunities and a 2.70 ERA. He fanned 70 with 30 walks in 63 1/3 innings across the two levels.  

Hill was the main closer for the RubberDucks, converting 13 saves in 15 chances. Capping the year with two frames for the Clippers, the 23-year-old right-hander went 4-4 with a 3.08 ERA, 50 punchouts and 17 walks overall.

Zarate had a three-year stint with the Blue Jays after signing in 2006. The left-hander played a few seasons in Japan and returned to affiliated ball with the Rays in 2015, but has been limited to 109 1/3 innings in four years. After to elbow surgery on his pitching arm, Zarate sat out for two years, but made a comeback in his native Venezuela this winter. He's gone 1-2 with a 4.46 ERA, 33 strikeouts and 14 walks in 10 games -- eight starts -- over 36 1/3 innings. The Indians signed the 30-year-old to a Minor League contract Thursday.

Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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