Bobby Bradley has been weighing in on his future in a big way this season.
Feeling better about his weight has been one of the factors that have turned the Columbus Clippers first baseman into one of the International League's most feared sluggers over the first two months of the season.
Bradley showed up prior to the 2018 season after shedding about 30 pounds. He said it didn't seem natural and concluded that he needed to bulk up this past offseason. It was his choice, not something he was prodded to do, he said.
"I came to that decision," Bradley said. "It should help keep that consistent approach. … Dropping down to 230 was not good."
So he bulked up, settling at about 255 pounds. It was his offseason priority.
"That's my life, baseball and training," he said. "It's always easier for me to gain weight than lose it. It's not so much the look, it's how I feel. When I'm [bigger], I feel good."
Clippers hitting coach Andy Tracy said Bradley has looked at ease at the plate.
"It's about being comfortable with Triple-A and executing his plan," Tracy said. "He has some skills."
First and foremost might be Bradley's power.
With 17 homers in his first 54 games this season, he's well ahead of his pace from a year ago, when he belted 24 for Double-A Akron and three for the Clippers in 129 games. Getting comfortable with his body off the field has translated to the strong spring on the field.
"He's maturing as a person," said Tracy, a former big league first baseman. "He's understanding his strengths and weaknesses. His strengths are plus power. A guy with power always stands out in the game."
Bradley's power surge included 12 homers in May. He said his approach involves being aggressive.
"Just swinging at more pitches," he said. "The last few years, I've been taking a lot more breaking balls. The homers have always been there, just trying to get that average up. Tired of hitting .250."
Bradley, who turned 23 last month, is in his sixth season since the Indians took him in the third round of the 2014 Draft. He said there's no pressure to hurry up and reach the Major Leagues, although that would be ideal.
"Age never comes up," he said of his conversations within the organization.
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Even with the added weight, he said he has maintained his conditioning. He'll go through fielding drills at third base to work on stamina and to enhance his agility. And the homers have put him on pace for his second 100-RBI season, something he accomplished in 2016 with Class A Advanced A Lynchburg.
In each of his full-season years, he's cranked out at least 23 homers, a number he should reach again.
And no matter his size, Bradley said he knows he has to play a big role offensively.
"It's fun [hitting the home runs]," he said. "It's exciting. It gets the team going. That's just who I am. I was blessed to have power."
Just keep hitting: International League RBI leader Michael Brosseau of the Durham Bulls racked up 53 RBIs in his first 54 games. That puts him well within range to shatter his previous career high of 61 achieved last year for Double-A Montgomery. A recent 20-game hitting streak drew some attention as well. "I knew about it for a few games," Brosseau said. "I'd never had a streak like that, so it was a learning experience. I was pressing a little bit. … You don't play this game for hit streaks."
High homer numbers: The high home run total at the Triple-A level has been well-documented this season. The Norfolk Tides provide an example, with 37 long balls at Harbor Park through the first week in June. That's two shy of last year's season total for the Tides in their home ballpark. Nine of first baseman Ryan Mountcastle's 11 homers have come at Harbor Park.
Ring thing: On the night Louisville Bats outfielder Rob Refsnyder received his IL championship ring for his role with the Bulls last year, he homered against his former team. Refsnyder was named MVP of the Governors' Cup playoffs last September. "It's different, weird," he said of facing the team he was with while winning the title.
Bob Sutton is a contributor to MiLB.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.