Sunday Notes: Tampa Bay Rookie Taj Bradley is Very Much Chill

Taj Bradley has had an up-and-down rookie season with the Rays, but only in terms of promotions and demotions. The 22-year-old right-hander has twice been optioned to Triple-A, and three times he’s been summoned back to the big leagues. He might be in Tampa Bay to stay. Over six starts comprising 30 innings, Bradley has logged a 3.62 ERA and a 2.82 FIP, with wins in three of five decisions. Moreover, he’s fanned 42 batters while issuing just five free passes.

The level of composure he’s displayed belies his age and inexperience. While many players performing on the big stage for the first time have a fast heartbeat, his has been borderline bradycardia. In a word, Bradley is chill.

“I’m not the kind of person to get too caught up in anything,” the 2018 fifth-round pick out of Stone Mountain, Georgia’s Redan High School told me on Friday. “If I were to meet a celebrity, or pitch in a big game, I wouldn’t be making too much of a moment of it. I always downplay things. I mean, you do get your nerves, but I don’t build it up. Someone might say, ‘Oh, you made your debut,’ or ‘Oh, you got a win against the Red Sox,’ but I just go about my day.”

Bradley’s debut, which came at home in a spot start against Boston on April 12, did elicit emotions. Being unflappable may be in his DNA, but it’s not as though he’s an unfeeling cyborg. Nearly two months later, the game remains a blur.

“I was kind of in awe the whole time,” Bradley admitted. “I tried to take it all in, but the day was moving so fast. I got to share it with friends and my family [his mother was there on her birthday], and I got a win — that was cool — but I feel like I’d have to go look at a video to be like, ‘I remember when that happened.’”

One thing the youngster does recall is not knowing the Red Sox lineup ahead of time. Each time a batter came to the plate in the early innings, his thought was, “Oh, he’s here.” Not that it mattered all that much. Bradley held Boston to three runs in five solid frames, with eight punch outs. Whatever nerves he had were both inconsequential and hard to detect.

“He looked like he’s been there before,” said Christian Bethancourt, who was behind the plate for Bradley’s initial outing. “And he pitched like he’s been there before, too. There was nothing I could see that suggested he was nervous.”

“I don’t know what was going on inside his mind at the time, but if he was [nervous], he does a good job of hiding it,” agreed Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash. “From what he’s shown here, even in spring training, is a very mature mindset… the way he’s handled coming up, going down, coming up, going down — even though we try to stay in front of that with him — that’s tough for any 22-year-old. I’ve been blown-away impressed.”

The extent to which Bradley has been impressed with his accomplishments — ditto his smattering of disappointments — is difficult to discern due to his demeanor. My bringing up his first career strikeout prompted little more than an acknowledgement that Rafael Devers was the victim. When I subsequently asked about his first gopher — Houston’s Alex Bregman took the righty deep in his third start — his response came with a shrug. “All I thought was, ‘He hit a home run,’ Bradley said. “It wasn’t like I could pause and think about it. The game was still going on.”

The rookie will make his seventh career start this afternoon at Fenway Park, and that he’ll do so in unseasonably cold weather — the forecast high is 54 — won’t daunt him in the least. Bradley is not just a talented young pitcher, he is very much chill.



Chris Speier went 18 for 100 against Rick Reuschel.

Scott Brosius went 5 for 47 against Chuck Finley.

Carlos Delgado went 4 for 36 against Kevin Appier.

Ed Romero went 3 for 31 against Frank Viola.

Steve Lyons went 1 for 25 against Dave Stieb.


David Bell had a fairly nondescript playing career, logging 1,239 hits and an 86 wRC+ over 12 big-league seasons. He did have his moments. Among them were four home runs as a visiting player at Fenway Park, which I asked him about when the Cincinnati Reds team he now manages visited Boston.

“I didn’t hit so many that I don’t actually remember,” replied Bell, whose career home run total was 123. “Especially in a ballpark like this. One was off the knuckleballer, [Tim] Wakefield. Another one was off Pedro [Martinez]. I definitely remember that one. I think it was a slider.”

The erstwhile, right-handed-hitting infielder cleared the Green Monster with all four of his Fenway home runs — two were off Wakefield — and he wouldn’t have minded regular opportunities to try for more.

“If I’d have played in this park, I would actually have been an okay player,” said Bell, whose .766 OPS over 102 plate appearances at Fenway was better than his .716 career mark. “I pulled everything, and I didn’t have very much power, so it would have helped me to have that wall there. It was fun playing there.”

The other of Bell’s Fenway blasts came off Curt Schilling.


A quiz:

Which pitcher holds the single-season record for wins in Texas Rangers franchise history?

The answer can be found below.



Mike Young, an outfielder who played for four teams, primarily the Orioles, from 1982-1989, died earlier this week at age 63. The Oakland native bashed 28 home home runs and logged a 134 wRC+ with Baltimore in 1985.

Miguel de la Hoz, a utility infielder who played for three different teams from 1960-1969, died last weekend at age 84. A native of La Habana, Cuba, he had his best season in 1964 when he batted .291 with the Milwaukee Braves.

The 2023 SABR Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference will be held in Detroit on July 20-23. Information, including the complete schedule, can be found here.


The answer to the quiz is Ferguson Jenkins, with 25 wins in 1974.


An uncommon occurrence took place at Fenway Park on Tuesday night. Cincinnati’s Stuart Fairchild drew a bases loaded walk, and proceeded to stand a handful of steps up the third base line while meticulously removing his protective gear. The runner coming in from third, Spencer Steer, concerned about the possibility that he could be called out for passing Fairchild, took care to wait — he literally stood in place for a few seconds — before completing his trip to home plate.

What if Steer hadn’t waited? Would the run have counted, or would he have been called out?

The answer is that the run would have counted. Per the rule in question, a runner is only called out when he passes a runner who is front of him on the base paths. In this case, the player being passed would have been behind the passing runner, making the rule irrelevant.

An even odder occurrence was theoretically possible. I’ll do my best to explain it.

First, it is important to know that a play remains live when a bases-loaded walk is issued; runners can attempt to advance beyond the base they’re entitled to at their own risk. This is most likely to happen on a wild pitch, with the ball caroming far from the catcher. That didn’t happen on Tuesday’s play, but let’s nonetheless imagine the runner who’d been on first base inexplicably passing the runner who had been on second base. Would Steer’s run have counted?

The answer is that it depends on when the illegal passing happened. If Steer had already crossed home plate, the answer is yes. Had it happened before Steer crossed home plate, the answer is no. In umpire vernacular, this is known as a timing play.



Roki Sasaki, back on the mound after missing time with a blister issue, allowed two runs over six innings as the Chiba Lotte Marines beat the SoftBank Hawks 9-5 on Tuesday. The 21-year-old right-hander is 4-0 with a 1.18 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 38 innings this season.

Shunpeita Yamashita raised his record to 5-0 by pitching the Orix Buffaloes to a 9-2 win over the Hiroshima Carp. The 20-year-old right-hander has a 0.84 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 42-and-two-thirds innings this year.

Koutaro Ohtake is 6-0 with a 0.40 ERA — he’s allowed just two runs in 44-and-two-thirds innings — for the Hanshin Tigers. The 27-year-old southpaw has a pedestrian 27 punch outs, but has walked just three batters.

Sócrates Brito is slashing .298/.352/.455 with six home runs for the KBO’s Kia Tigers. The 30-year-old outfielder is in his second season with the Korean club following stints with the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Toronto Blue Jays.

Adam Plutko is 8-0 with a 1.88 ERA in 67 innings with the LG Twins. The 31-year-old right-hander is in his second KBO season after previously playing with the Cleveland Indians and the Baltimore Orioles.


MLB history includes 11 players who were born in the Netherlands — Bert Blyleven is by far the most prominent — and Sem Robberse stands a good chance of being the 12th. A native of Zeist who was signed as an international free agent in 2019, the 21-year-old right-hander is No. 6 on our Toronto Blue Jays Top Prospects list. Currently with Double-A New Hampshire, he has a 4.44 ERA and a 4.95 FIP with 36 hits allowed and 52 strikeouts in 48-and-two third innings.

Robberse began playing baseball at age six, ultimately becoming a pitcher-only a decade later. His experience outside of his homeland was sparse. When I talked to the righty during spring training, he told me that he “only played in a couple of tournaments outside of the Netherlands, and just one outside of Europe.” After his team won a tournament in the Czech Republic, they traveled to Indiana to compete in the Colt World Series. It was around that time when playing professionally in the United States became his goal.

Robberse’s father, who had himself competed on the diamond in the Netherlands, played an important role in his development. One of the lessons stands out to the appreciative son.

“My dad taught me my mechanics backwards,” Robberse explained. “He started with teaching me how to finish my delivery. That way, when we worked back to the start, like the leg lift, I knew what was happening next. My delivery is pretty smooth— it all blends together and is efficient — which I can thank my dad for.”

Robberse’s repertoire comprises a four-seam fastball, a slider, a cutter, and a changeup. He doesn’t consider himself a power pitcher. Command and inducing weak contact are his self-identified strengths.



Yu-Min Lin struck out 13 of the 17 batters he faced last night in the High-A Hillsboro Hops’ 9-6 loss to the Everett AquaSox. The 19-year-old Taitung, Taiwan native was signed as an international free agent by the Arizona Diamondbacks in December 2021.

Junior Caminero is slashing .349/.396/.639 with 11 home runs in 182 plate appearances between High-A Bowling Green and Double-A Montgomery. The 19-year-old third baseman is No. 5 on our Tampa Bay Rays Top Prospects list and No. 38 on our Top 100.

Chris Newell is slashing .305/.414/.655 with 16 home runs in 210 plate appearances between Low-A Rancho Cucamonga and High-A Great Lakes. The 22-year-old outfielder was drafted in the 13th round last year by the Los Angeles Dodgers out of the University of Virginia.

Bobby Bradley is slashing .283/.369/.667 with 12 home runs in 122 plate appearances for the independent Atlantic League’s Charleston Dirty Birds. The 27-year-old first baseman has played parts of three seasons with the Cleveland Guardians, including 2021 when he logged a 99 wRC+ and went deep 16 times.

Christian Capuano is 4-0 with a 1.60 ERA and 34 strikeouts and 20 hits allowed in 33-and-two-thirds innings for the Atlantic League’s Staten Island Ferry Hawks. The 25-year-old right-hander pitched collegiately at Fairleigh Dickson and hasn’t played affiliated ball.

Lew Ford has eight hits in 34 at-bats with the Long Island Ducks. The 46-year-old former Minnesota Twins and Baltimore Orioles outfielder is a player-coach for the Atlantic League club.He has 2,533 professional hits.


LINKS YOU’LL LIKE’s Kennedi Landry wrote about how the Texas Rangers — a team that went 18-9 in the month of May — are proving they’re for real.’s Sarah Langs looked at what it means to be in first place entering June.

Kohei Wong is the first native of Singapore to play professional baseball, having signed with the Ibaraki Astro Planets, who compete in Japan’s Baseball Challenge League. Kimberly Kwek has the story at The Straits Times.

Our Esquina’s José de Jesus Ortiz wrote about how Minnesota Twins flamethrower Jhoan Duran was captivated by Josh Beckett’s performance in the 2007 postseason.

Broadcasters Gary Cohen and Howie Rose were inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame yesterday. Tim Britton wrote about the duo’s intertwined journey for The Athletic (subscription required).



Of the 19 longest games the Boston Red Sox played this season, all but one has been at Fenway Park.

The Tampa Bay Rays have been successful on each of their last 29 stolen base attempts. They have 81 steals on the season, the most in the majors.

Javier Báez has 223 plate appearances and is slashing .226/.270/.317 with a 63 wRC+. Luis Arraez has 222 plate appearances and is slashing .390/.441/.485 with a 156 wRC+. Baez has 20 runs scored and 27 RBIs. Arraez has 20 runs scored and 26 RBIs.

The Cleveland Indians traded Roger Maris, Norm Cash, and Rocky Colavito over a 22-month period spanning June 1958-April 1960. The trio combined for 147 home runs and 413 RBIs in 1961.

Don Drysdale threw his sixth consecutive shutout on today’s date in 1968 as the Los Angeles Dodgers topped the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-0. The Hall of Fame right-hander’s 58-and-a-third innings scoreless streak came to end in his next outing.

On today’s date in 1958, Hall of Fame left-hander Warren Spahn drove in the winning run with an 11th-inning pitch-hit single as the Milwaukee Braves beat the San Francisco Giants 10-9.

Players born on today’s date include Chang-Yong Lim, a native of Gwangju, South Korea whose MLB career comprised six relief appearances with the Chicago Cubs in 2013. The right-hander played 24 professional seasons — 18 in the KBO, five in NPB, and one stateside — and was credited with 142 wins and 390 saves.

Also born on today’s date was George Washington, an outfielder who batted .268 while playing for the Chicago White Sox in 1935 and 1936. Washington won four batting titles in the minors, one of them in 1947 when he hit .404 for the Big State League’s Texarkana Bears.

Teams in the Class-B Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League during the 1930s included the Bloomington Bloomers, Moline Plow Boys, and Terre Haute Tots. Peanuts Lowrey, who went on to make an All-Star team with the Chicago Cubs, was a Plow Boy.

David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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Trevor May Care Attitude
10 months ago

Inspired by the local nine, as well as the traditional English ploughman’s lunch, Moliners created the Plowboy’s brunch. Once quite popular before games, it is now, sadly, forgotten.

Last edited 10 months ago by Trevor May Care Attitude