Analyzing a Potential Bradlee Baladez Homegrown Deal

South Carolina Athletics

Is signing the South Carolina forward a smart thing to do at this time?


While I'm as big a proponent of homegrown signings as anyone out there, I have to say my eyebrows raised and I audibly said "Whoa" today upon hearing that FC Dallas has petitioned MLS to sign Bradlee Baladez to a homegrown contract. While it's not a done deal yet and he may still play his senior season, I'm conflicted on FCD potentially signing Baladez to a deal at this time.

Like I did with Peter Luccin, I think the best way to talk about a move like this one is analyzing pros and cons:

Pros

Done with USC I watch a good bit of college soccer in my work for MLSSoccer.com and I have to say that the South Carolina team that Baladez was on this year was very poor. Normally, I recommend a player staying in college as long as possible, but with Baladez, who led USC in goals with just four, he probably wasn't going to improve any more in a senior year with the Gamecocks than he would with a year of practice/reserve games for FCD.

A known commodity Baladez spent nearly the entire summer training with FC Dallas, occasionally impressing. The fact that they want to sign him now means that he's showed them enough to merit a contract, this isn't simply a signing because they felt they were so thin at forward that the needed to bring someone in.

Better than Sealy I would prefer to go ahead and get Baladez in here getting reserve minutes and maybe isolated MLS minutes rather than a guy like Scott Sealy. If either of them are playing significant minutes, FCD is having some problems next year so you might as well bring in the young guy who can get better rather than the guy who isn't in the long-term plans.

Cons

Not ready for MLS minutes I like Baladez and he's certainly got potential, but I didn't see anything in his summer with FCD that suggests he's ready for MLS minutes. We've had enough of the homegrown signings that aren't ready to play, so this one surprises me simply for that reason.

Could he have transferred? I agree that South Carolina was probably not the right place for Baladez's senior season, but could he have transferred to a bigger program for his senior season like Matt Hedges did from Butler to UNC? I'd love to see Baladez play a season in the ACC or Big East to prove himself on a bigger stage before moving to FC Dallas.

Final thoughts

Bradlee Baladez is a big, strong forward who has a body that is ready for MLS, but a speed of thought that still needs to improve. The fact that they want to sign him is an exciting sign that they've determined Baladez can contribute to the team next season. With Jon Top(hopefully) gone significant amount of time with the U20 national team this year, Baladez fits in as a full-time reserve forward behind Blas Perez, Pipico, and either another signing or a draft pick. With Pertuz likely leaving, they will possibly need to spend a first round draft pick on defensive depth so the Baladez signing makes some sense. Let's just see if it goes through...

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