Name: B.J. Boyd
Height/Weight: 5’11’’, 230
How Acquired: Selected in the 4th round of the 2012 draft
After two solid seasons to start his pro career, B.J. Boyd’s production cratered in 2014 with the Low-A Beloit Snappers. Faced with the first significant challenge of his professional career, Boyd returned in 2015 with a new attitude and a much-improved game on the field.
Boyd was part of a 2012 A’s draft class that has produced several promising prospects, and he was one of several high school or junior college players the A’s selected that June. A native of Palo Alto, Boyd was a two-sport star at Palo Alto HS, leading his team on the gridiron and the diamond. He chose to follow the baseball path rather than pursue a football scholarship, and the A’s snatched him in the fourth round.
Boyd’s pro debut season was overshadowed by fellow classmates Addison Russell, Daniel Robertson and Matt Olson, but Boyd was plenty impressive in his own right. He hit .301 with a .401 OBP and he stole 16 bases in 39 games with the AZL A’s that year. Boyd followed up that performance by earning the Vermont Lake Monsters’ co-MVP award in 2013 (sharing it with Boog Powell). Boyd hit .285/.375/.442 with eight homers in 71 games in the pitcher-friendly New York-Penn League that year.
B.J. Boyd Stats
With so much success early in his career, Boyd may have been caught off-guard when he started the 2014 season slowly with the Beloit Snappers. Boyd was never able to work his way out of an early-season slump. He hit just .226/.300/.319 in 125 Midwest League games. Those around the team said Boyd withdrew into himself as he struggled and didn’t appear to enjoy himself on the field.
Offered a fresh start in 2015, Boyd took advantage. He came into spring training with a renewed attitude that immediately made an impression on the A’s front office.
“I’m very proud of the way that B.J. Boyd has approached this camp,” A’s Special Assistant to the General Manager Grady Fuson said at the end of spring training. “His enthusiasm for the game has been great and he’s playing the game very, very hard. He’s playing well. I’m proud of him.”
Boyd’s strong camp encouraged the A’s player development staff to promote him to High-A Stockton at the start of the year rather than have him repeat in the Midwest League. That proved to be a solid decision. Although Boyd didn’t hit for a lot of power with the Ports, he was a steady bat in their line-up. In 132 games, he hit .277 with a .344 OBP. He also stole 18 bases in 23 chances and collected eight triples. Defensively, Boyd played a solid left field and filled in on occasion in center.
A’s Assistant General Manager Billy Owens was impressed with how Boyd handled his 2015 season.
“B.J. really took a major step forward. The joy and the energy was back in his game,” Owens said. “Just the way he moved and interacted with people every day, you could tell he was in a good place.”
After his difficult 2014 season, Boyd made a point of trying to stay within himself at the plate. He was more line-drive oriented and concentrated less on trying to swing for the fences. That resulted in a slightly higher contact rate in 2015 and an improved line-drive rate. He also hit a lot of groundballs, which, given his speed, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Boyd’s spray chart was fairly evenly distributed and he worked the count well, often serving as a “second lead-off hitter” near the bottom of the Ports’ line-up.
Owens sees Boyd continuing to improve.
“I think that B.J. will continue to evolve offensively,” Owens said. “This year, he was able to spray line-drives all over the field. He’s got some raw power and we saw glimpses of that in short-season when, I believe, he hit eight homers in 70 games or something along those lines. That kind of strength is still in there. It hasn’t totally been untapped, but it has been a positive year. For him to hit for solid average, move around well on the bases and play a pretty good outfield, he kind of put himself back on the map as a strong offensive performer going forward.”
Boyd is still built more like a running back than a base-stealing outfielder. His lower half is significantly bigger than his upper half, although he was in much better overall shape in 2015 than he was in 2014. He never trained for baseball when he was in high school, using his football workouts to keep in shape, so he is still learning the nuances of being in baseball shape. Boyd could have allowed his 2014 season to drag him down in 2015, but he took his struggles on as a challenge and improved in several areas. That bodes well for him moving forward. He has been durable throughout his career, never missing any significant time with injury.
Boyd turns 23 midway through next season. He may start the year back in Stockton if the A’s go veteran-heavy with outfielders in Triple-A, but he should get at least a half season in Double-A if he continues to show the improvement he showed in 2015.