When new Phillies GM Matt Klentak selected outfielder Peter Bourjos
off waivers from the Saint Louis Cardinals back on December 2nd of this past off-season, the move caused some scratching of heads among the fan base.
In the minor leagues, top outfield prospect Nick Williams
appeared to be just a few months away from being ready for his big league shot.
If the club needed an extra veteran outfielder to suck up innings and at-bats at the big league level while awaiting the arrival of Williams, then many fans would have been very happy to see the Phillies bring back popular right fielder Jeff Francoeur
for one more go-around.
Also, the Phillies controlled the top pick in the Rule 5 Draft, which at the time of the Bourjos signing was just a week away.
It was rumored that outfielder Tyler Goeddel
would be that top pick, which would mean the club had to plan on him possibly being carried all year on the big league roster.
But Klentak saw something that he liked in the former Angels’ 10th round 2005 draftee who had six years of big league experience. Remember, Klentak had been an exec with the Halos previously, and knew Bourjos from those days.
In 2011, Bourjos had hit .271 for the Angels with a dozen homers and 22 stolen bases
while playing on a full-time basis for the only time in his big league career.
“Since that time, he really hasn’t had the full-time opportunity that he had in 2011,” said Klentak to reporter David Murphy in a Philly.com piece back in December.
“Part of that has been some nagging injuries, part of that was the development of Mike Trout, part of that was getting traded to St. Louis, which had a pretty good outfield.” ~ Murphy
Here in Philly, Bourjos got off to a rocky start. Following an 0-2 at Saint Louis on May 5th he was at a season-low .165 mark.
Even as late as June 12th, Bourjos’ batting average was still below the feeble fabled ‘Mendoza Line’ at a .197 mark.
And then something clicked in, turning his season completely around. From June 13th through July 9th, the final game before the MLB All-Star Game break, Bourjos hit for a .412/.457/.671 slash line with seven doubles, three triples, three home runs, 9 RBI, and 17 runs scored over a 25-game stretch.
Bourjos also was playing a fantastic right field, using his speed to track down balls in the gap, up the first base/right field line, and back against outfield walls.
In short, the talent that Klentak had observed a few years ago with the Angels was on full display.
The hot stretch also put Bourjos on the map for contending organizations looking to add a valuable and versatile outfielder at the MLB trade deadline.
So who might be able to use a speedy outfielder who can play everyday, but would also have real value coming off the bench as a hitter, defensive replacement, or base runner? Pretty much all of them.