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Bradley falls to third round; plans to sign with Tribe

Bradley falls to third round; plans to sign with Tribe

Bobby Bradley might have heard his name called on Day 1 of the First-Year Player Draft, considering he publicly stated that only a first- or second-round selection would persuade him to forego college. But even with concerns over his signability, the Indians were willing to take a chance that Bradley would sign even after falling to Round 3.

That gamble seems to have paid off, as Bradley plans on signing with Cleveland.

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"I don't think I'm going to see campus," he said on Friday.

"I had a round set in my mind. Top-two round money. And even though I got drafted in the third round, [the Indians] gave me top-two round money, so that kind of influenced me to go that way."

For Bradley, his choice of becoming a professional baseball player was an intensely personal one -- so much so that he waited until his mind was made up to inform his mother, Doloris.

"I didn't even talk to her about it before I made the decision. I called her afterwards and told her I was an Indian now," Bradley said.

The Indians used the 97th overall pick in the Draft on Bradley, a first baseman out of Harrison Central High School in Mississippi. He had been ranked as the 68th-best prospect in this year's class by MLB.com, thanks to a tantalizing combination of size, plus-contact and major power potential.

"He's a big, physical left-handed hitter," Indians director of amateur scouting Brad Grant said. "Has really done a lot to change his body, has gotten in really great shape. He's an elite power bat for a high-school kid."

Bradley has also spent time at catcher and third base with Harrison Central, and many questions remain as to where exactly he could fit in on the field at the professional level, considering his limited range as a defender.

However, there is little doubt that the true strengths of Bradley's game lie in his bat, which is where the Indians hope the growing young lefty can truly blossom at the professional level. He hit .442 with 23 home runs and 91 RBIs over 84 career high school games while also showing surprising patience at the plate for a high-schooler, walking 29 times in 22 games.

"The sky's the limit on that, because he can swing it with the best of them," Harrison Central head coach Pat Olmi said. "He gets his money's worth with his hacks."

Olmi was not surprised Bradley said he would sign. However, he was surprised that it was the Tribe that wound up drafting his first baseman, as opposed to another pair of Major League clubs.

"The Marlins and the Brewers had showed interest, too. I thought they were really interested. But I'm glad for him," Olmi said.

Bradley joins lefty Justus Sheffield (No. 31) and right-hander Grant Hockin (No. 61) as prep players taken by the Indians in the first three rounds. Sheffield will reportedly sign with the Indians after he was offered a $1.6 million signing bonus as part of his contract.

Bradley would be far from the first professional baseball player to graduate from Harrison Central, which produced Major Leaguers in Greg Hibbard and former Tribe outfielder Matt Lawton. Bradley's coach thinks he'll be able to tread the same path sooner rather than later.

"I think he could move up quick," Olmi said. "He loves the game, he studies it. I think you're going to be surprised how quick he moves up."

As for Bradley, he relishes the fact he got a call from any Major League team, let alone one that had scouted him as much as the Indians had. With his decision made, he can simply bask in the joy of Friday's accomplishment.

"I'd have been happy with any team, but knowing that the Indians showed a lot of interest made it even better," Bradley said.

The Draft concludes on Saturday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at 1 p.m. ET.

Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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