Just a few weeks ago, Bradley Key was hitting below .170 and was obviously having a tough time making the jump to pro ball.
Key was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 48th round in this year's Major League baseball draft.
It was clear that Key would be drafted. He had performed well at every level. He was a four-year starter for one of the Georgia's premier programs at Greenbrier.
Following a stellar career, which included a pair of state championships, Key signed to play at USC-Aiken. Key was an instant starter for the Pacers, and was the top freshman in the powerful Peach Belt Conference.
However, his first two seasons paled in comparison to his record-breaking junior campaign.
He led the team in eight offensive categories including batting average (.388), hits (85), doubles (24), triples (5), home runs (12), RBIs (62), total bases (155) and slugging percentage (.705).
So when the Reds selected Key no one was surprised.
He quickly signed with Cincinnati and was sent to their rookie league team in Billings, Mont. Billings plays in the Pioneer League, and boasted some impressive college talent like Rice shortstop Paul Janish and East Carolina infielder Trevor Lawhorn.
Key quickly earned a starting position, but as I pointed out earlier, he was struggling for some reason.
Maybe it was the wooden bats or the improved pitching, but for some reason he was not having a very Bradley Key-type season.
But anyone who has seen this guy hit knew the mini-slump would not last long.
And boy, oh, boy has Key broken out in a big way. Over the course of a recent seven-game hitting streak, Key raised his batting average by more than .100 points.
He also had a amazing stretch of four straight three-hit games. Twelve hits in four games; that is unheard of.
He is currently second on the team in hitting (.286), home runs (3), RBIs (24) and most importantly at bats (126).
At this level, few players get a chance to play every game. Key, however, has become a fixture in the starting lineup for Billings.
Also, he is impressing Reds management.
It just so happens that Dan O'Brien, the Reds' general manager, was in town to see most of Key's hot streak and was reportedly raving about his diamond-in-the-rough. He was shocked when he realized that Key was a 48th-round pick.
Well, Key may have surprised him, but folks in Columbia County probably won't be to shocked to hear that Key is putting up big numbers - no matter what level he is playing at.
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