Tag Archives: Chris Truby

Time for Phillies to give Alec Bohm a full shot to start in 2020

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It is only a matter of time before Bohm’s powerful bat is impacting the Phillies lineup

 

The Houston Astros won the 2017 World Series and are now playing in their third consecutive American League Championship Series. They won 107 games this season, most in Major League Baseball.

Whether they ultimately capture another title this year or not, Houston is the current model organization in MLB. The folks who run their ball club clearly know what they are doing.

Shortstop Carlos Correa was the first overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft. He became a big-league starter in 2015 at age 20.

Third baseman Alex Bregman was the second overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft. He became a big-league starter by the following July at age 22.

Second baseman Jose Altuve was signed by Houston as a free agent out of Venezuela at age 16 in 2007. By July of 2011 at age 21 he was a big-league regular.

Yordan Alvarez spent his rookie season in MLB this year as the Astros primary Designated Hitter. He blasted 27 home runs while slashing .313/.412/.655 at age 22.

The point? There is no reason that talented ball players aged 20-22 should be held back from their Major League Baseball debut simply due to their birth date.

In fact, more than ever, professional baseball is a game for players in their 20’s. Getting as many of those years as possible out of your best players is becoming more and more important.

The old way of MLB teams holding young players back in order to gain more years of contractual control should be considered as antiquated thinking.

If a young player demonstrates that he is going to be valuable to your organization, the strategy should be to buy them out of a few free agent years by paying them more at a younger age, as the Phillies have done with Scott Kingery.

In 2018, the Phillies made third baseman Alec Bohm their choice at third overall in the MLB Draft. He was billed as an advanced college bat whose hitting ability and maturity could allow him to quickly reach the big-leagues.

When spring training opens at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida four months from now, there is absolutely no reason that a 23-year-old Bohm should not be the Phillies annointed starter at the hot corner.

Not waiting until May or June after receiving six, eight, ten weeks of experience against Triple-A pitching. Not later in the summer. Not next September when rosters expand. Right away, in Clearwater.

During his first full professional season this year, Bohm demonstrated the hitting ability that had made him such a high pick. He slashed .305/.378/.518 with 21 home runs and 55 extra-base hits across 540 plate appearances while rising through three minor league levels.

No more authoritative hitting expert than former Phillies World Series winning manager Charlie Manuel had this to say regarding Bohm’s hitting ability earlier this year:

He’s going to hit. He’s going to be a line-drive hitter with power. He’s going to be an RBI guy. He’s a tough out. I liked him in college and like him even more now.

One question mark regarding Bohm’s status at the time of his selection was defense. Would he ever become a good enough defender at third base to stick at the position at the MLB level?

This past May, Bohm was named as the Phillies organization minor league defense player of the month. In late June, Mike Drago of The Reading Eagle quoted him regarding his work at the position:

I worked a lot at third base, and on defense (in the offseason), not to prove anybody wrong, but to be the best player I can be. It’s paid off.

Drago also noted that when Philadelphia Inquirer’s Bob Brookover brought up the fact that some had questioned his defensive chops at the time of his draft selection, Bohm responded: “Those guys don’t know what they’re talking about.

The Phillies minor league infield coordinator Chris Truby, whose four big-league seasons in the early-2000’s included playing in 242 games at the hot corner himself, had this to say per Drago regarding Bohm’s commitment to defense:

I don’t know that he’s ever taken defense as seriously as he is now. He has made tremendous strides since Instructional League (in September 2018). He’s taking this defense thing personally.

By July, Manuel was absolutely gushing about Bohm’s offensive ability. Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia quoted the hitting guru on the club’s prospect:

I think when it’s all said and done and his career balances out where it should be, I’m looking at a guy who is going to hit anywhere from .285 to .300 and hit anywhere from 25 to 30 to 40 home runs. It depends on how many he happens to catch that season.”

For his strong 2019 performance, Bohm was named as the Phillies minor league player of the year. In late August for Baseball America, Salisbury quoted Phillies director of player development Josh Bonifay:

Day in and day out, he’s continued to show why the organization believed in him. His ability to command the strike zone and do damage on pitches is impressive. You make a mistake, whether it’s on the heater or a breaking ball, and he’ll hit it hard somewhere. He’s a line-drive hitter who drives the ball with carry. He uses the whole field. He’s fun to watch.”

The Phillies sent Bohm to the Arizona Fall League in September where he became a starter in the annual Fall Stars Game. Josh Norris of Baseball America opined the following after watching Bohm’s performance in the AFL:

Gifted with the tools to become a classic corner-infield masher, Bohm’s .390 average places him third in the AFL through games of October 8.

MLB Pipeline now ranks Bohm as the top third base prospect in the game. But Jim Callis of MLB.com, while praising Bohm’s bat, still has questions on the defense when he wrote the following:

To get to the big leagues, Bohm will need to continue refining his defense at the hot corner. He has enough arm strength for the position, but his range is fringy and he lacks consistency. He made a wide throw on a seventh-inning grounder Sunday, his third error in six AFL games in the field after making 12 miscues in 83 regular-season contests.”

First base is not available in Philadelphia. Rhys Hoskins turns 27-years-old in March, just beginning the prime of this career. Hoskins is not scheduled to become a free agent until after the 2023 season.

Hoskins is a relatively inexpensive and powerful bat for an organization that already has spent a lot of money in free agency and is likely to spend a lot more in the next couple of years.

Incumbent third baseman Maikel Franco has legitimate 25-30 home run power and will spend much of the 2020 season still at just age 26. But his overall ceiling is nowhere near as high as Bohm, and Franco will likely be used as trade bait this coming winter.

The Phillies have a reputation as being notoriously slow in giving their top prospects a shot at the big leagues. But that reputation is beginning to fall by the way side.

Aaron Nola was the Phillies first round pick in the 2014 MLB Draft at seventh overall as an advanced college pitcher. He debuted in the big-leagues the following summer and was a regular member of the starting rotation at age 23 in 2016.

Adam Haseley was the Phillies top pick at eighth overall in the 2017 MLB Draft. He appeared in 67 games and was playing regularly by the end of the 2019 season at age 23. While a better outfield defender than Bohm will be in the infield, Haseley’s bat is nowhere near as advanced or impactful.

The Phillies need these types of exciting, inexpensive, homegrown talents to begin impacting their lineup as soon as possible. Bohm is plenty old enough and appears mature enough to handle the big-league lifestyle. His confidence and talent are undeniable.

Bottom line, there is no reason that Alec Bohm should not be the Philadelphia Phillies starter at third base right out of the gate in the 2020 season.

Phillies third baseman of the future? Alec Bohm ready to show it is him

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Bohm was the Phillies 2018 first round draft pick out of Wichita State

Fans of the Philadelphia Phillies have justifiably been distracted in recent weeks by two names. But while Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are gathering contract offers and making their final decisions, perhaps we can take some time to talk about other topics related to the ball club?

There are other possible Hot Stove situations further out on the horizon that have also received some attention from the fans. One of those could come next Fall, when third baseman Nolan Arenado is due to become a free agent if he and the Colorado Rockies cannot reach a contract extension.
Having acquired Jean Segura via trade earlier this off-season, the Phillies would like Machado to play third base for them. If that were to come to pass, then the hot corner would be filled for the foreseeable future.
However, should the club fail to land Machado this year or Arenado next, the Phillies future third baseman could already be in the organization. And I’m not talking about incumbent Maikel Franco.
Last June the Phillies made Alec Bohm of Wichita State University their choice in the first round at third overall in the MLB Amateur Draft. With an advanced bat, it shouldn’t take more than a couple of seasons before Bohm is ready for a crack at the big-leagues.

When Bohm was drafted there were many who speculated he would eventually end up at first base or an outfield corner. But as the Phillies (hopefully) learned this past season with the Rhys Hoskins left field experiment, you cannot simply stick a player in the outfield and hope that his bat makes up for defensive deficiencies.
Hoskins is not a left fielder and never will be one. Nothing about Bohm suggests that he would be a solid defender out there either. With Hoskins now apparently back and settled in at first base for years to come, that position presents more than a roadblock to Bohm.
Based on what we know at this point, Bohm is the Phillies third baseman of the future. As the RotoWire staff pointed out for CBS Sports, if the 6’5 Bohm were to make it and become a regular at the position he would be bucking the odds. Troy Glaus and Kris Bryant are the only players 6-foot-5 or taller to have ever played 200 games at the position in the majors.
Neither Glaus, who bashed 320 homers over a 13-year big-league career from 1998-2010, or Bryant who is one of today’s premier power hitters, would ever be considered a defensive whiz. Their bats were their calling cards.
There is little doubt that the bat will be what carries Bohm as well. If anyone knows hitting, it’s Charlie Manuel. The Phillies 2008 World Series-winning manager was quoted on that bat by Jim Salisbury for Baseball America back in November:
He’s going to hit. He’s going to be a line-drive hitter with power. He’s going to be an RBI guy. He’s a tough out. He doesn’t like to strike out and he can really get on the fastball. We’d turn the machine up to 100, 105 (mph) in the cage and he can get to it. I liked him in college and I like him more now.”
The Phillies have enjoyed success with taller third basemen over their history. The two best to ever play the position for the club were the 6’2 Mike Schmidt and 6’4 Scott Rolen.
Both Schmidt and Rolen were premier athletes who were not only dynamic offensive contributors but were also among the greatest defenders to ever play third base in the history of the game.
That defensive performance is where Bohm is going to have to show improvement if he wants to last at the position in Major League Baseball. This past Fall he spent four weeks working on that aspect of his game in the Instructional League.
Back in October, Meghan Montemurro at The Athletic quoted the Phillies minor league infield coordinator Chris Truby on Bohm’s work at the defensive side of the game:

“He wants to silence everybody. He’s come out with the work ethic and desire to prove people wrong. He’s done nothing but prove to us that he can play third.” ~ Chris Truby, on Bohm

“When you’re in college and the bat is your thing, you go to the next level and you realize that you need a little bit more than that, and I think he knows that..
Work in the IL is an important part of the developmental process. Now entering his first year as a professional baseball player, Bohm will continue that work in spring training and on into his first full season. That work in practice and then the experience gained in real games will be the telling point.

His bat should allow Bohm to reach Double-A Reading by the end of this coming summer. Assuming health and continued expected development, he would see Triple-A Lehigh Valley by some point in the summer of 2020.
That would put the Omaha, Nebraska native in line to contend for a starting job in the Phillies lineup by spring training of 2021 when he would be 24 years of age.
Schmidt was 23 for his first full season in 1973, Rolen just 22 for his first full season in 1997. Franco was also just 22 when he took over the position in 2015. So that is certainly a more than reasonable track for Bohm to be on.
Most fans seem to be writing off any chance of Franco remaining a part of the Phillies future for much longer. That is somewhat difficult to understand considering that he is still just 26-years-old and hit for a career-high .270 average last season, when a shoulder injury severely hampered his production over the final month of September .
The incumbent Franco? The free agent Machado? The future free agent Arenado? The developing Bohm? The third base position should prove one of the most compelling situations as the Phillies look to construct a roster that can contend throughout the 2020’s as they did through all of the 2000’s.

Rhys Hoskins crashes the Home Run Derby

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Hoskins will try to put on a power show at the 2018 Home Run Derby 

The Major League Baseball All-Star Game will take place on Tuesday night July 17 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

That night, most of the very best players from the National and American Leagues will square off in an exhibition to celebrate our National Pastime.

As has been the case for more than three decades now, the night prior to the All-Star Game will feature a Home Run Derby, pitting some of today’s top hitters in what is always a fun and spirited contest.

Earlier this week, MLB announced the eight participants in this year’s event. For the first time in this decade, that contest will include a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.

25-year old left fielder Rhys Hoskins was selected, becoming the first Phillies player to take part since Ryan Howard back in 2009. He also becomes just the fifth Phillies player to participate in this 34th year that the showcase has taken place.

Hoskins has been matched up in the first round with slugging first baseman Jesus Aguilar of the Milwaukee Brewers. Currently tied for the National League leadwith 23 home runs, the 28-year old Aguilar was installed as the top seed in the event.

The winner of the Hoskins-Aguilar duel will take on the winner of a battle between Alex Bregman of the world champion Houston Astros and Kyle Schwarber of the Chicago Cubs. That winner would then advance to the Finals, where they would take on the survivor from a second bracket.

That bracket will have Washington Nationals pending free agent Bryce Harper, who will certainly by a sentimental hometown choice, taking on Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves in one match-up.

The other will find another Cubs player, the exciting Javier Baez, taking on Max Muncy of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who seemed to emerge from nowhere to become a big power threat this season.

Hoskins’ 14 homers place him just 25th in the National League to this point in the season. However, he also missed about 10 days back in early June after breaking his jaw on a fluke swing back on May 29.

He came off the DL hot, blasting eight home runs from June 9 to the end of the month. But Hoskins is right now in the midst of a dry spell. After being held in the yard last night at Citi Field, he has not homered now over his last 11 games.

So, what are the odds that Hoskins can get past the slugging Aguilar, the Bregman-Schwarber winner, and then defeat the winner of the other bracket to become this year’s Home Run Derby champion?

While MLB has him slotted in as the eighth seed, the folks who set the odds for Bovada in Las Vegas are a bit more bullish on his chances. Hoskins is currently rated as the fourth-best choice, tied with Baez, right in the middle of the field.

Harper is the favorite at +300 , which is not at all a surprise. Unfortunately, Hoskins opens with the current second-choice of the oddsmakers, with Aguilar at +375. Schwarber is at +500, followed closely by Hoskins and Baez each at +550. Muncy is at +600, Freeman +650, and Bregman pulls up the rear at +950.

The Home Run Derby dates to the 1985 MLB All-Star festivities. However, the Phillies all-time home run leader and one of the greatest sluggers in baseball history, Mike Schmidt, never participated.

That was despite the fact that Schmidt was an NL All-Star in both 1986 and 1987. He led the NL in long balls in ’86 and was both the NL MVP and Silver Slugger winner at third base that year.

The first Phillies player to participate was Jim Thome in 2004. The Hall of Famer-to-be was knocked out in the first round after slamming just four over the fence at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

The following year, Bobby Abreu fared much better. The Phillies outfielder set a record with 24 first round bombs enroute to 41 total homers. He defeated Miguel Tejada by 11-5 in the 2005 finals at Comerica Parkin Detroit.

It was just one year later that the Phillies got their second Home Run Derby winner. Howard barely survived the first round that year. But ‘The Big Piece’ then exploded for 28 homers over the next two rounds. In the finals, the Phillies rookie edged out David Wright by 5-4 at PNC Parkin Pittsburgh.

Howard and Chase Utley took turns getting knocked out in the first round at the 2007 and 2008 events in succession. In the 2009 appearance at Busch Stadiumin his hometown of Saint Louis, Howard fell just one homer short of reaching the finals.

Matt Bowker at NBC Sports Philadelphia quoted Hoskins after his involvement was announced:
“I think it’s a cool honor, just the fact that I would even be considered…it should be fun. I get to be around a pretty cool group of guys. I grew up watching the Home Run Derby as a kid, so I think that full circle kind of moment is pretty cool.”

Hoskins also revealed that it would be the Phillies minor league infield coordinator, Chris Truby , who “throws money BP“, would pitch to him during the event. Truby played in the big leagues in parts of four seasons from 2000-03, mostly as a third baseman with four different organizations.

Originally appeared at PHILLIES NATION as “Can Rhys Hoskins win the MLB Home Run Derby?