Black MiLB Players #22: Taj Bradley
A super raw pitching prospect who was barely touching 90 with his fastball in his first year of professional baseball, former two-way player Taj Bradley has blossomed into yet another intriguing starting pitcher in the Tampa Bay Rays farm system.
Taj Bradley is a 21-year-old starting pitcher in the Tampa Bay Rays organization from Stone Mountain, Georgia, a suburb in the greater Atlanta area. A versatile two-way star for Redan High School’s standout baseball program that produced MLB alumni such as second baseman Brandon Phillips, Bradley was drafted in the fifth round of the 2018 MLB Draft as one of the youngest high school seniors in his class at 17 years and three months old. His stock had a meteoric rise during his senior year because of his exploits as a two-way player for one of Georgia’s best public high school baseball programs.
"All Of A Sudden...He Gets Bigger And Stronger" | MLBbro Pitcher Taj Bradley Has Sights Set On…
The Tampa Bay Rays drafted right-hand pitcher Taj Bradley in the fifth-round of the 2018 MLB Draft out of well-known…
He forewent a strong commitment to the University of South Carolina’s baseball program, receiving a $747,000 dollar signing bonus that was a little less than twice the suggested value for the slot. This move showed how much scouts in the Tampa Bay Rays organization were enamored with the potential he offered as a pitcher.
His professional career started in 2018, throwing 23 innings in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League across ten appearances(nine starts) to the tune of a 5.09 ERA with a 9.4 K/9, 4.7 BB/9, and a 1.65 WHIP. The next year he was promoted to the Appalachian League, logging a 3.18 ERA in 51 innings with 10.4 K/9 & 3.4 BB/9. His breakout happened during the 2021 MiLB season, logging the lowest ERA amongst starting pitchers in the minors with a 1.83 ERA across 103 innings in Low-A and High-A. He once again reduced his walk rate and increased his strikeout rate while throwing more innings.
For the 2022 MiLB season, Bradley threw 74.1 innings in Double-A with a 1.70 ERA before a midseason promotion to Triple-A Durham. He logged 59 innings and a 3.66 ERA in his first stint at the highest level of the minors across 12 starts. Only 21 years old during the 2022 season, the right-hander’s success versus older competition in the upper minors was very impressive.
Taj Bradley making a pitch to be one of Rays' next great ones
PORT CHARLOTTE - Taj Bradley knew he had some things to figure out after leaving his Atlanta-area home in 2018 to sign…
Taj Bradley is 6'2'’, and weighs around 200 pounds. He has a wiry and athletic frame. An above-average on-the-mound athlete, he repeats his delivery consistently whether its the full wind up or out of the stretch. He releases all of his pitches from similar release points, showing some deception and ability to tunnel his offerings. The shapes of his pitches compliment one another, which adds to the deception that he can work with. He commands all of his pitches well, leaving offerings out of the middle of the zone and understanding that his stuff works when its being used in an east-west manner.
He has shown the ability to quickly learn and make adjustments throughout his professional career so far. Reaching Triple-A at the age of 21 after becoming a full time pitcher in professional baseball at 17 years and three months old is a big indicator of future success. Bradley struggled in his first month with Triple-A Durham in August 2022, throwing 23 innings with a 5.09 ERA and opponents putting up a collective .280/.250/.538 slashline. In September he bounced back with a 2.48 ERA in 29 innings pitched, reducing his opponents’ OPS to 0.565 in the process.
His fastball sits between 93–95 and can reach as high as 99 miles per hour on the gun. He shows some feel for manipulating it, as it has armside run and sinking action that varies. He commands it very well to all quadrants of the strike zone, using it to garner whiffs and groundouts. He pairs it with a cutter that sits between 85–89. It has a similar shape to a traditional slider but Bradley intentionally throws it harder with tighter spin. He can effectively land it for strikes and to get right-handed hitters to expand and chase on the outer third. Bradley uses the cutter to bore in on the hands of left-handed hitters as well, and can land it for strikes on the outside edge of the zone. His changeup is sits in the mid 80s and shows some fade to the armside. He also has a 12–6 curveball that he rarely throws.
Taj Bradley - Scouting Report - Prospects Live
Aug 2021 Report Evaluator: Isaiah Burrows Age: 20 yr Height: 6-2 Weight: 190 lbs Hits/Throws: R/R Acquired: 2018 Round…