As a 44th-round high school selection from a high school in the Northeast, Beloit Snappers infielder Chris Bostick, to an extent, has already surpassed the expectations many scouts outside the organization had for him. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the Oakland A's 2011 draft class, Bostick is looking to take his game to another level playing in a full-season league for the first time.
After starring during a summer wood bat league, Bostick signed with the A's late in the 2011 signing period and proceeded to blister the Arizona Rookie League to the tune of a .442/.482/.654 line in 52 at-bats. He continued his stellar play during the A's fall Instructional League.
The 5'11'' Bostick opened last year in extended spring training before earning a promotion to short-season Vermont, where he'd spend his entire summer.
Bostick's experience in the New York-Penn League resembled a roller-coaster ride. He fought through a broken nose and slow start for the Lake Monsters before heating up in June and July. However, a lackluster finish dropped his slash line to .251/.325/.369 for the season.
"Vermont was a great league for me to learn about myself, to understand what I need to do and what's going to work best for me," Bostick said. "I struggled towards the end of the year, but needed to do that for the long term of my career. Things aren't always going to go well and I have to find a way to get out of it. When things get well, I need to keep it that way. I went through the ups and downs and played a lot of baseball."
After a disappointing finish to his first full year in the pros, Bostick felt he was able to right the ship last fall, when the A's extended him another invite to the instructional league.
"It is a lot like spring training, so you just work on things," he said. "You don't have to worry about stats. I've gone the last two years. I've learned about myself. I'm worrying more about the process than the result."
Bostick opened the 2013 season with a 2-for-5 night in Cedar Rapids, including an RBI single. However, since then he has just two hits (two doubles) in 18 at-bats. He has also walked three times.
In addition to staying healthy through a long season, Bostick says his main goal is to get back to the mindset that helped him be successful in 2011.
"The biggest thing this year is keeping within myself, playing to my approach and having a singular approach the whole year," Bostick said. "I think when I struggle is when I get away from what I do. I hit a couple home runs last year and started trying to do that, so I started striking out more. I was trying to play a game that really isn't mine. Sticking to what works for me will help."
That approach, he says, is to do the little things that are asked of a two-hole hitter in Beloit's lineup.
"I'm a smaller guy with speed, so I don't want to get out of myself at the plate and do too much like hitting home runs," Bostick said. "I need to make solid contact, hit line drives and get on base. I had a pretty good spring. I wasn't really thinking about the results, but just the process of sticking to an approach."
Bostick also believes he might have been doing a little too much thinking last summer, instead of just going out and playing the game he loves.
"I didn't really know much about pro ball (in 2011), so it was just going out and playing," he said. "I wasn't really thinking about anything. I need to get a little bit of that to come with me, like staying out of my head and not worrying about stats."
While many players his age enter the professional ranks with several hundred games under their belt at the amateur level, Bostick said that wasn't necessarily the case with him. A product of the Aquinas Institute in Rochester, New York, Bostick wasn't afforded the warm weather environment many of his teammates enjoyed.
"I'm definitely excited getting to play a lot of baseball, especially since I came from a cold weather place where I hadn't played as much as other guys," Bostick said. "I'm excited for the full season. Hopefully I can stay on track, keep myself grounded and play well."