BOSTON (CBS) – Red Sox prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. played his way onto the 2013 roster after a stellar spring training, but was later sent down to Pawtucket after struggling at the plate for a prolonged period.

That was then, this is now.

Sox insider Sean McAdam predicts that 2014 will be a different year for Jackie Bradley Jr., and that nothing will get in the way of him being the opening day center fielder.

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Citing other examples, McAdam says that what Bradley experienced last season is typical of any prospect.

“Rare is the guy who doesn’t have a lot of experience, or maybe no experience at all, who somehow wins a job in spring training and has this great rookie season – look at Mike Trout and how he struggled,” said McAdam. “It’s unusual to have guys make a team out of nowhere, the way Bradley did, and stick around for the whole season.”

Adam Jones was curious to know: is there some kind of special formula that determines when a prospect gets called up?

McAdam referenced the Xander Bogaerts call-up as the ideal way of handling a prospect, and added, “Teams want to expose their prospects to the big leagues a year prior to when they’re ready, so that when they come into spring training they’re not overwhelmed.”

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On Bradley, the Red Sox are not expecting him to step in and immediately replace Jacoby Ellsbury – not yet anyway. They like what he can do defensively and will provide him with protection at the plate to bolster his confidence.

“I’d be surprised if it’s anybody but Jackie Bradley Jr. [in center field]. They are comfortable with him. They think he can do the job defensively right now. They like his instincts and the way he handled things last year, even though he didn’t have a lot of success early.”

“He showed himself to make some adjustments, and they’re going to do the smart thing and bat him in the lower third of the order to give him protection at the plate.”

“Unless there’s a Matt Kemp trade that gets made in spring training, I don’t see anything coming along that will usurp Jackie Bradley Jr. from being the everyday center fielder.”

Listen below for Jones and McAdam’s full discussion, including what it will take for the Red Sox to get Matt Kemp from the Dodgers if they do in fact want him:


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