Robert Leonard Bradley
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 170 lb.
- High School Wellington High School
Bobby Bradley was a shining star in high school. As a senior, he had a 12-1 record, 0.38 ERA, 156 strikeouts and only 51 baserunners allowed in 92 innings. An All-American, he was taken by the Pittsburgh Pirates with the 8th overall pick of the 1999 amateur draft and he was signed by scout Rob Sidwell for $2,250,000. As a high school pitcher who relied on a breaking ball, it was about as high-risk a pick as there could be.
Bobby began his professional career with the 1999 GCL Pirates and went 1-1 with a 2.90 ERA in six starts, walking four while striking out 31 in 31 innings. Bradley pitched for the Hickory Crawdads in 2000 and went 8-2 with a 2.29 ERA, striking out 118 and walking 21 in 83 innings. The curveball specialist was among the South Atlantic League leaders in all the major pitching categories when he sprained an elbow ligament and missed most of the second half and the Futures Game, for which he had been initially selected. During the year, Baseball America named him the top low-A prospect and after the season, he was ranked as displaying the best breaking ball in the circuit. Had he pitched enough innings, he would have led the league in ERA. He was named the 4th-best prospect in the SAL and the #2 prospect in the Pirates chain after J.R. House.
In 2001, Bradley only pitched in nine games for the Lynchburg Hillcats (1-2, 3.12) before undergoing elbow surgery and that October, he had Tommy John surgery. He was still rated as Pittburgh's 4th-best prospect entering 2002 but did not pitch that year. In 2003, he was back with the Hillcats and went 3-2 with a 3.40 ERA before he had surgery again, this time for an impingement in his right shoulder.
Bradley made it to AA in 2004 with the Altoona Curve and went 5-4 with a 3.11 ERA and was sidelined for a stretch with a pulled muscle in his upper chest. When he returned in 2005, he was just 0-1 with a 13.14 ERA in 11 games for the Indianapolis Indians. He allowed 10 hits in 12 1/3 innings, striking out 8 but walked 30 and threw 10 wild pitches, only two less than the International League leader. When he was diagnosed with a compressed nerve that would need other operation, the Pirates released him on July 1 to make room on the 40-man roster for Zach Duke.