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Bobby Bradley can learn a lot from Mike Napoli

The future Tribe slugger has a mentor in spring training. This is nothing but good news.

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Cleveland Indians Photo Day Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images

According to reports out of Arizona, Cleveland Indians’ top slugging prospect Bobby Bradley has a mentor in Mike Napoli. This has the makings of a very beneficial friendship for Bradley and the Indians. Not to mention it provides one of the few interesting stories to come out of spring training.

When they’re not busy playing cribbage, Bradley will have the opportunity to learn from a guy who has been in the league for a dozen years with a couple World Series runs under his belt and a very similar hitting profile.

Over a career spanning three teams, the 36-year-old Napoli has a career walk rate of 12.2 percent and a strikeout rate of 27.5 percent. A bit on the high side for both for a traditional power hitter, a good thing for walks and a bad thing for strikeouts. That’s a very similar story for Bradley, whose had a strikeout rate hover around 11 percent in the minors and a strikeout rate that’s fluctuated in the 20 percent range.

We already know Napoli is a calming presence for younger players; he’s gotten a lot of credit for helping the slew of first-timers in the playoffs two years ago. Maybe he can do the same for Bradley, who at just 21 years old is going to be in Triple-A at some point this season. Bradley’s already shown a degree of power that should excite the inner Napoli in all of us, so why the hell not. His 79 home runs over the last three years leads the entire Indians organization, which includes a year of Napoli and three years of Carlos Santana.

It’s a match made in baseball heaven.

The Indians signed Napoli to a minor-league deal with an invite to spring camp last week, with the expressed intent of only having him around in spring training. It was a good deal for both sides — the Indians got an mentor who was a part of one of the most exciting seasons in team history, and Napoli gets a stage to audition for a team that has a spot for him in the regular season.

Neither side is shying away from this reality, and Terry Francona is taking full advantage of his new on-field coach.

Napoli has been remarkably consistent over his career, for better or worse. That has to count for something when it comes to mentoring such a young player facing opponents way over his age range. He’s also had to overcome his own career-threatening obstacles when sleep apnea nearly caused him to retire years before he ever made it to Cleveland. Hopefully Bradley won’t ever have to deal with something similar, but the experience is there.

Who knows, maybe one day Bobby Bradley will find himself in a bind and have to take an emergency poop in the biggest game of his life. When he does, the face of Mike Napoli will appear in the sky and give him an encouraging nod. On that day, we’ll be glad the Indians extended an olive branch to an old friend.

Just don’t ask him for lessons on sliding into third.