As a perusal of the Detroit Tigers’ prospect rankings will quickly reveal, the organization needs high caliber bats more than anything. Perhaps the best option in this year’s class is Alec Bohm from Wichita State University. The junior third baseman has put up monster numbers for over a year now, and came out extremely hot this spring, though he has since cooled a bit.
As the Tigers continue their prep work prior to one of the most important picks in franchise history, one can’t help look back at not just which players were selected 1-1 over the years, but how various position groupings panned out in total. After some intensive research, friend of BYB, Chris Brown of TigsTown, recently illustrated that college third baseman have provided the most valuable top 10 picks between 1997-2012.
There were nine college third baseman taken in the top ten between 1997-2012, and seven of them produced at least one season of 6.5 WAR or better for the team that drafted them.
Sometimes you get a Pedro Alvarez. If you’re lucky, you get Kris Bryant. Bohm probably isn’t Kris Bryant, but he does possess major raw power and looks more and more like he will be able to make it play in the majors someday. He will have to, as the rest of his tools are a little less appealing.
School: Wichita State University
Draft day age: 21
MLB Pipeline prospect rank: 11
Previously drafted: Never
MLB Pipeline Scouting Grades: 3B Alec Bohm
Bohm is an imposing individual, and his rising draft stock is largely based on his huge raw power potential. But despite his size, the swing is relatively compact and his balance and bat control are solid. He also looks smoother and less jerky and mechanical than he did early in his college career. While he can sell out for power, he doesn’t need to. He has made real strides in his contact ability and discipline over the past two seasons. Bohm has refined his approach in the view of John Sickels of Minor League Ball, among others.
The thing that stands out most to me, having watched him develop over the last couple of years, is the very significant improvement in his approach. He was very aggressive as a freshman and while he was still productive, I felt his swing mechanics could get choppy and longish
Sickels also notes that Bohm has also shown a very good track record with wood bats in the Cape Cod League and elsewhere. MLB Pipeline also praises Bohm’s strike zone discipline these days. Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs had a very positive report on his recent viewing.
He has 70 raw power and, even at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, does a great job at the plate keeping his hands tucked in and limiting his hand load to keep his stroke short. Even with with that, he still can do things like hit an opposite-field home run with a flick of the wrist,
It should be noted that MLB Pipeline lists Bohm at 6’5”, 240 pounds, which fits the eye test better than McDaniel’s number, which presumably comes from measurements earlier in his college career.
By and large, scouts are in general agreement that Bohm has a good chance to hit in the major leagues. His power has shown up in bursts rather than a consistent pace this spring, but that’s a function of his contact. If there is a hole in his hitting, it may be his pull-heavy approach. That’s not a major flaw, but it may limit his ability to hit for high average a bit. Bohm has already sacrifice a bit of power for more consistent hard contact, and his overall offensive game has benefited. With refinement, he may be able to further max out that power without sacrificing the hard contact he’s producing. And, as McDaniel noted, it’s not as though he can’t hurt you to the opposite field already.
The real issue with Bohm lies with his ability to stick at third base in the major leagues. His speed is generally described as fringy, though he is regarded as a pretty good overall athlete. Notably, McDaniel seems fairly convinced Bohm’s quickness and arm will keep him at the position without a good deal of improvement. Others point to Bohm’s nine errors this spring and worry that he will never have the hands and footwork to play average third base in the major leagues.
The hope is that Bohm has enough athletic ability to improve at third base, or at very least handle a corner outfield spot where his arm would be playable as well. He probably won’t ever impress as a defender, and he won’t be tearing around the basepaths either. But Bohm is here to mash, and the rest is just ensuring that the team who selects him doesn’t have a instant DH on their hands. Chances seem good that he will be able to hold his own in the field enough to let the bat play.
Draft Position: top 10, with the possibility of going top 2
This goes without saying, as players’ stock can fluctuate a lot in the run-up to the draft, but going on a tear in May would be a good thing for Alec Bohm. His production has cooled off a bit in recent weeks. While there are no particular concerns, a lukewarm stretch run would leave him in jeopardy of being overtaken by another hot hitter or two. With over a month remaining until the draft, Bohm is very well regarded but still vulnerable to falling quite a bit if he stumbles.
Right now, there’s little to suggest that the Tigers are particularly interested. However, the San Francisco Giants (at 1-2) were projected to take Bohm in FanGraphs’ most recent mock draft. The low estimate comes from Perfect Game, which has Bohm all the way down at 1-9, going to the Oakland Athletics. Still, many believe that both the Chicago White Sox and Cincinnati Reds are set on taking the best college bat possible. As things stand, it’s unlikely Bohm slips past them both should the Giants go another direction.