As a youngster and up until he left to play at Georgia, Tucker Bradley has traveled the country playing baseball.

This past Sunday, he learned of his newest baseball destination as the 6-foot, 200-pound outfielder and former Gordon Lee Trojan signed an agreement to join the Kansas City Royals as a free agent.

Bradley called it "an unreal feeling."

"It's something that I've always wanted to do with my life," he said this past Monday. "I've been dreaming of this moment since I was a kid. The opportunity presented itself and I just couldn't pass it up. That's what every kid dreams of - turning pro."

Bradley batted .316 as a Bulldog, getting 115 starts in 119 career games. He finished his Georgia career with 14 doubles, nine homers and 62 RBIs to go with 27 stolen bases in 33 attempts.

He was enjoying a monster season in Athens this spring, including a .397 average, six homers, 23 RBIs and eight stolen bases in 18 games. Georgia was 14-4 overall and ranked as high as No. 2 nationally when concerns over the coronavirus brought the season to an abrupt halt in mid-March.

The pandemic also was responsible for shortening June's Major League Baseball Draft from its usual 40 rounds to just five. As a result, teams were able to start contacting potential free agents on June 14, three days after the draft was complete.

Bradley said he had multiple offers on Sunday and spent the day talking to scouts and front office personnel.

"It was insane," he explained. "It was fun, stressful, but it was really cool to see all the teams interested in me, all the phone calls I got and everything. I'm very thankful to all the teams that showed interest. It was like (college) recruiting all over again, but it was all done in 24 hours.

"From the time I woke up, I was on my phone hearing from teams, listening to what they could do for me, finding who was the best fit, talking to my family and seeing what was going to be best for my future.

Bradley added that even though he didn't get to hear his name called as a draft pick, he was excited to have a chance to get to pick the organization that worked best for him.

"Not too many guys get to choose their paths to the Major Leagues, so honestly, that was the cool part about it," he continued. "I get to pick where my journey begins. Obviously, every kid wants to be drafted, but at the end of the day, that's the cards I got dealt. It's awesome to be able to pick a team that is the right fit for me."

He credited the loyalty of the Royals organization and their area scout, Will Howard, for his diligence in the entire process.

"(Howard) was amazing from the get-go," Bradley said. "He was my first call (on Sunday) and he set up a Zoom (meeting) a long time ago before the draft was even cut down to five rounds. He seemed like he really wanted me and he stayed in touch with me and he got me in touch with all the upper guys in the Royals organization.

"It just seems like they are a close-knit group. They were very loyal to me from the very beginning and, to me, that's what separated (them) from everyone - their interest from the start."

He said the toughest decision he had was whether to go ahead and turn pro or return to Georgia for one more season. Bradley, a four-year member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll, earned a Sports Management degree in May.

"The people at UGA have been so good to me," he said. "It was tough leaving them behind, but at the end of the day, that's what you go to school for. You go to get your degree, play baseball and win some ballgames there and then you want to move on and start your professional career. I did all three of those things.

"At the end of the day, it was my time to go. I thought that was what was best for me and my family, to go ahead and start my professional career."

Bradley said he will soon be flown out to Kansas City to make the signing official and, from there, things are still up in the air. MLB's owners and players have still not reached an agreement as to when or if there will be a 2020 season and Bradley said that decision will have to be made before the league can determine what to do about its minor league teams.

He said the Royals want him as a full-time outfielder, allowing him to focus solely on one position, perhaps for the first time in his entire playing career.

"That's kind of a good thing," said Bradley, a high school pitcher who saw some innings out of the bullpen as a reliever during his time at Georgia. "I'm ready to start working on my arm strength...I think it's going to be good for my future, being able to build up arm strength in the outfield."

Bradley said everything that has gone into getting him to this spot has been completely worth it, now that he has seen his lifelong dream start to become a reality.

"I can't thank my family enough for all of the hours and money they've spent on me to provide me with this opportunity," he added. "It's been a blessing to have them be a part of this journey. I wouldn't be here without them."

Scott Herpst is sports editor for the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga., and Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga.

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