On Monday night, the Phillies made Wichita State third baseman Alec Bohm the third overall pick in the draft. The Phillies were impressed first and foremost with Bohm’s offensive skills and like what he’s shown around the plate.
In this analytical, data driven world of baseball, it was something more simple that attracted the Phillies to Bohm. The fact that in each of his three college seasons Bohm increased his walk rate and dropped his strikeout rate. The Phillies were also impressed with how he developed physically and refined his power stroke at the plate, which was already pretty impressive as a high school player. Just after his high school playing days came to an end, Bohm entered a local home run derby which gave the winner a shot at competing alongside triple-a all-stars in the annual triple-a Home Run Derby. He won the contest and competed with the all-stars and hit nine home runs, the same number as current major leaguer’s Matt Davidson (White Sox) and Jesus Aguilar (Brewers).
Quite honestly, Wichita State took a chance on Bohm. Shockers coach Todd Butler made Bohm part of his initial recruiting class and thought there was something there to work with. At the time, Butler was right around the 6-foot mark and could have afforded to lose a few pounds. By the time he reported to Wichita State he was touching 6′ 4″ and weighed 240-pounds. Butler hardly recognized him. After three seasons with Wichita State, Bohm was now 6′ 5″ and had chiseled off about 15 pounds. That’s the guy that the Phillies drafted.
His power has been on display literally since his first at-bat with the Shockers. He was called on to pinch-hit as a freshman and cranked a home run against Northern Colorado. This past season he launched 16 home runs for Wichita State and finished three seasons of college ball with 33 home runs.
Unusual for a power-hitter is the fact that Bohm has a great eye for strikes and the discipline to go along with it. As a junior, he drew 39 walks, well ahead of the 28 strikeouts that he compiled in 224 at-bats. When asked about his plate discipline, he quietly told reporters on a conference call on draft night, “I just don’t like to strike out.”
Butler, his college coach, credits good vision and extremely good balance at the plate. He also cited Bohm’s confidence and the fact that he hits through the ball, never trying to do too much or get too fancy at the plate.
Bohm has played in two highly-touted summer leagues as a college player, including the Cape Cod League, the best in the country. In both leagues, hitters use wooden bats. As a freshman, Bohm played in the Coastal Plain League for the Wilmington Sharks and mashed 11 home runs and hit .330 for the Sharks. As a sophomore, he played in the Cape Cod League and hit .351 with five home runs.
Summer league coaches credited his ability to work into good counts and recognize pitches. He has the ability to just look to put the ball in play with two strikes while at the same time, not conceding anything to a pitcher. Bohm has also been credited with making adjustments to different styles of pitching and learning from one at-bat to the next.
The drop in weight improved Bohm’s athleticism to the point where scouts are at least split as to whether he can be good enough defensively at third base to stick there. He has the talent to move to a corner outfield spot, but ideally, staying at third base would be the best spot for him if it works out defensively. In that respect, the Phillies have some work to do with their first pick in the draft. Hopefully, they focus on that part of his game and leave him alone at the plate. The Phillies have a tendency to want to tinker with players – just ask Dominic Brown – and change what they do. There is no need to do any of that with Bohm. Just let him play and adjust and he should be fine offensively.
At 6′ 5″, he may be a little tall for third, but it hasn’t seemed to hamper Kris Bryant. Troy Glaus was another pretty good third baseman at or above the height mark. If ultimately, things don’t work out, Bohm could be converted to the outfield or first base where his height would be turned into an advantage.
The final point to make about Bohm is his work ethic. He spent lots of quality time in the indoor batting cage at Wichita State even during the offseason. He’s early to arrive to the park to start working and isn’t in a rush to leave at the end of the day.
Nothing is a guarantee with a draft pick. The Phillies appear to have gotten a quality bat who has the athleticism to learn what it takes to stick as a major league third baseman. That could make for some interesting decisions down the road, but that’s a concern for some point later in Bohm’s professional career.