What a difference a year makes. In June 2019, Georgia outfielder Tucker Bradley was still nursing an injured shoulder that forced him into the dugout for all but three games of his junior season.
Late Sunday night, the three-season Georgia starter announced he signed with the Kansas City Royals to begin his professional baseball career.
The 22-year-old out of Chickamauga, Georgia, wielded Georgia's most explosive bat during much of its 18-game 2020 campaign. He booked 21 hits, eight for extra bases, and 19 RBIs in the Bulldogs' first 12 outings. Bradley also pitched for a perfect 0.00 ERA across 4 1/3 innings. He closed three games in 2020, including a one-strikeout save in the season opener.
Despite cooling off in his final six games, batting .250 and driving in four runs, Bradley nearly secured the Diamond Dog triple crown. He led Georgia in total home runs and RBIs, but fell short of topping the team in average with a .397 mark shy only of center fielder Ben Anderson's .414.
Ranked outside mlb.com's 2020 top-200 draft prospects list, he wasn't among the 160 amateurs taken in the five-round MLB draft held over June 10-11.
With this year's altered format, undrafted free agents can sign with a team for a maximum $20,000 signing bonus. Neither Bradley nor the Royals have published the amount offered to the former Bulldog.
Bradley became the second Georgia athlete from Chickamauga to field MLB interest over the past week after the San Diego Padres drafted sophomore starting pitcher Cole Wilcox No. 80 overall on June 11.
While the younger Chickamaugan has until August 1 to decide if he'll shoot for the big leagues or return to Athens for 2020-21, Bradley has cemented his departure. Georgia will have to do without their offensive spark plug once they return to Foley Field for preseason fall ball.