They say it takes leaving one’s comfort zone for growth to occur. Where Enrique Bradfield Jr. is concerned, that includes a drill that actually looks uncomfortable.

Round after round, swing after swing during his on-field batting practice Tuesday afternoon at Aberdeen, the Orioles’ first-round pick from last summer essentially halted the follow-through of his swing. He stops his swing as his bat points to center field, in a demonstration of not only the granular detail that goes into developing such a potentially special young player but the aptitude and desire of the player himself.

“Basically, he’s just doing swing stops, understanding how to get the body to decelerate on time, to continue efficiency through that path and get it up to speed, and also decelerate the rotation pieces,” Aberdeen hitting coach Zach Cole told me after batting practice. “And it just overall helps with the swing direction, making sure we’re getting good flight at good angle at different parts of the field. So, basically, I don’t want to cut off or lag too much where I end up flaring balls the other way.”

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For a player whose center field defense and speed have the potential to be elite major league tools and are already present-day strengths, the Orioles have known since taking him 17th overall in last July’s draft that unlocking the best version of Bradfield at the plate could create a special player. What his full-season debut has proven, to this point, is how willing Bradfield is to get to that point himself.

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“His aptitude for learning is elite,” Cole said. “He loves to learn, he wants to know the detail behind everything, and he does a really good job of understanding it: very smart. … His aptitude for just wanting to understand how everything works — and why — makes him put a little more value into every rep that he gets.”

This drill is part of a broader effort to work on Bradfield’s bat path, Cole said, by “reducing some of the lag in the swing to get the barrel in zone and on time a little more efficiently.” He’s only a few days into it, having begun toward the end of last week, Cole said. Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, Bradfield hit a ball in game at a personal-best 103.9 mph for a triple Friday in Wilmington. Cole said that one was at an attractive line-drive angle — about 15 degrees.

“He’s got some sneaky pop in there, too, and we want him to leg those out,” Cole said.

Because of everything else he does so well, these incremental gains with Bradfield are just as much a focus for the Orioles as his stats.

(But to address them: He missed time in late April after being hit in the head with a pitch, but entering Tuesday he had a .755 OPS in 11 games since returning to give him a .705 OPS overall. He’s struck out 19 times against 11 walks and stolen 18 bases on 20 attempts.)

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The skill set remains the same, though. The Orioles know he has an outstanding ability to control the strike zone and make contact, but they also understand that as competition level increases up to and into the big leagues, the value of ground balls decreases tremendously. Hitting the ball at respectable speeds at consistent line-drive angles is the way to tailor Bradfield’s skills for the highest level, and all of Bradfield’s work is toward those goals.

Digging deeper, he’s hit the ball on the ground less frequently than he did in his pro debut. Two-thirds of the balls he put in play after signing in 2023 were on the ground, and he entered Tuesday’s game having cut that to 57.6%, with his line-drive rate up from 17.4% in 2023 to 22.7%.

The contact ability and strike zone control remain the same; he whiffed in zone just 4% of the time in 2023 and swung at just 9% of pitches outside the zone, compared to a still impressive 9% and 15% this year. His 90th percentile exit velocity is up from 98.1 mph to 100.5 mph, and his hard-hit rate is up from 25.4% to 37.3%.

Cole said Bradfield is benefiting from the challenging pregame drill work and exposure to more advanced pitch types that the daily setup in Aberdeen provides before and during games, “so he can be ready as he takes the next step.”

As much as success in the minors will help Bradfield to take those next steps, the reality is his speed and defense alone give him a major league future. It will be the details that determine just how good a player he’ll be. That’s why Bradfield took ground balls off a machine on Aberdeen’s turf before Tuesday’s game, with a focus on how he transferred the ball from his glove, given his dissatisfaction with how he’s ended up gripping some fielded balls in game lately.

The angle and speed at which he hits baseballs aren’t exactly minor details, but the margins for doing those things well are fine ones. And, at this early stage in Bradfield’s career, they’re potentially more important than the basic stats to demonstrate how his development is trending. And, in many ways, they seem to be trending up.