Even if you haven’t been paying attention to the Phillies’ minor league system, you’ve still probably heard of Alec Bohm. The Phils’ top prospect, taken third overall in last year’s amateur draft, has been dominating the minor league circuit so far in 2019.
Bohm’s 2018 campaign, his first in professional ball, was less than stellar as he struggled to find his footing. In 40 games split between the Gulf Coast League and Class-A Short Season Williamsport, he had just 35 hits and slashed .252/.335/.324.
2019 is already a much better season for Bohm. He started the season in Low-A Lakewood where he had 29 hits in 22 games, including his first three career professional home runs. He impressed enough that he was quickly promoted to Advanced-A Clearwater at the end of April. Since his promotion, Bohm has had 19 hits in 13 games. In each of his past four games he has had multiple hits and collected at least one RBI. He’s hit safely in six straight games and eleven games total since joining Clearwater. In 35 games combined between the two leagues, he’s slashing .358/.414/.997 with five home runs and 21 RBIs.
Bohm’s current success doesn’t necessarily mean he’s destined for the majors this season, but the Phillies’ lack of depth in the infield at both the major and minor league levels leaves the door open. Rumors are already circulating about a possible call-up to AA Reading, from which he could be able to make a case as an injury replacement or part of the roster expansion come September. After Maikel Franco and Jean Segura, the Phillies’ best options on the left side of the infield are Mitch Walding and Arquimedes Gamboa, who are the only non-injured infielders on the 40-man roster that aren’t also on the 25-man. While Scott Kingery is also capable of playing on the left side, he’s primarily a second baseman and is currently on the injured list.
Bohm would be the first first-rounder to reach the majors for the Phils since Aaron Nola (drafted in 2014) made his major league debut in 2015. Cornelius Randolph (2015), Mickey Moniak (2016) and Adam Haseley (2017) are all with Reading and none look like they’re ready to make the major-league jump yet.
It’s practically unheard of for a player to start a season in Single-A ball and reach the majors before the end of the year, but it has been done before. Baltimore Orioles right fielder Austin Hays started 2017 with Class A-Advanced Frederick and spent time with AA Bowie before being promoted to the majors for the final 20 games of the season. Over 128 games in the minors he slashed .329/.365/.593 with 32 home runs and 95 RBIs.
In 2014, pitcher Brandon Finnegan became the first player to ever play in both the College World Series and the MLB World Series in the same year. He was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the first round of that year’s draft while he was playing for Texas Christian University. He started his professional career that July with Advanced-A Wilmington, spent time with AA Northwest Arkansas and made his MLB debut that September with the Royals.
Finnegan is an interesting case of someone who rose through the minor league system very quickly, going from Advanced-A to the majors in three months. But Hays’ progression is more indicative of what could be possible for Bohm in a full season’s work. Of course, Hays started that season in Advanced-A rather than Low-A, which could be the difference for Bohm.
While it’s highly unlikely, it’s also not impossible to think we could see him in the majors this season, especially if a AA promotion is in his near future. If not, a 2020 MLB debut is certainly within reach.