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Ferguson: Gose's time will come, Bradley Jr's time may be now

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Scott Ferguson
3/18/2013 6:04:47 PM
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As things stand right now with the regular season two weeks away, it's interesting to see that the Blue Jays and Red Sox both have a 22-year-old centre fielder as their top prospect. Not only that; both teams appear to be heading in different directions in terms on their development.
 
It was only last week that Jays skipper John Gibbons said Anthony Gose was probably the Blue Jays' most valuable player at spring training. He's hitting .324 with a .909 OPS and has stolen five bases in six tries. But where Gose really sticks out is defensively. He has tremendous range and speed in centre field, has made a couple of incredible catches and has the arm strength to play all three outfield positions.
 
The veteran centre fielder Colby Rasmus, on other hand, is having a horrible spring compounded by soreness in his non-throwing shoulder that forced him to sit out a few games. Rasmus is only hitting .130 with a .464 OPS. He is good defensively, but not as good as Gose.
 
If there is a concern with both, it's strikeouts. Gose has fanned 12 times in 37 at bats while Rasmus has struck out eight times in 23 AB's.
 
Gose is resigned to the fact he's going to open the season with Buffalo unless there is a late onslaught of injuries. Rasmus is under Blue Jays control for two more seasons. At the very least, the organization is hoping he can buy them the time it will take Gose to become a true Major League hitter.
 
The Jays are deeper than most clubs in the outfield. They've got Rajai Davis and Emilio Bonifacio behind, Jose Bautista, Rasmus and Melky Cabrera. It was interesting to note on the weekend that Cabrera moved over from left to centre and Rasmus was the DH in one game. If Cabrera can play a decent centre, it's just one more reason Gose will open the season at Buffalo.
 
That brings us to Boston. They have a gifted centre field prospect in 22-year-old Jackie Bradley Jr. He's arguably been the Bosox's beat player this spring, hitting .444 so far with a Grapefruit Circuit-leading .555 on base percentage. He, like Gose, is a tremendous outfielder and possesses maturity beyond his years.
 
Bradley, though, unlike Gose has a better chance of breaking camp with the big club. The Bosox have an acute shortage of left hand bats. David Ortiz still hasn't recovered from last season's Achilles tendon problem and that in turn has created soreness in both of his heels, which makes running virtually impossible. It's looking more and more as though Ortiz will have to open the season on the DL.
 
The man projected to be Boston's number one shortstop, Stephen Drew who is also a left hand hitter, was nailed in the batting helmet by a pitch and suffered a concussion. Drew hasn't made a lot of progress so far and he too may not be ready for the start of the season.
 
Due to those injuries and just his pure talent, Bradley Jr. could be the Bosox starting left fielder on opening day and in time, their centre fielder if Jacoby Ellsbury leaves as a free agent after this season.
It's not unprecedented for Boston to go with a "kid" outfielder. In 1975, they had two -- 23-year-old Fred Lynn in centre field and 22-year-old Jim Rice in left. They each knocked in 102 runs and help put the Red Sox in the World Series against Cincinnati. Rice missed that series with a broken arm and the Bosox ultimately lost a seven game classic to the "Big Red Machine". But both Lynn and Rice made their marks that season.
 
 Anthony Gose's time will come. Jackie Bradley Jr's time could be now.

Anthony Gose (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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