Photo by Chris Lockard / OaklandClubhouse.com

Oakland A's 2017 top-50 prospect scouting report: B.J. Boyd, OF

Our Oakland A's 2017 top-50 prospects list is out. Now find out more about the players on that list. In this piece, a close look at top-50 prospect B.J. Boyd. Boyd had to repeat a level but improved his overall game. Can he make that permanent leap to the upper-levels in 2017?

Name: B.J. Boyd  
Position: OF
Height/Weight: 5’11’’, 230
Bats/Throws: L/L
Age: 23
How Acquired: Selected in the fourth round in the 2012 MLB Draft

The 2016 season was a test of patience for B.J. Boyd, who spent the majority of the season stuck at the High-A level despite playing the entire 2015 season at that level. Boyd’s patience was rewarded late in the year with a promotion to Triple-A Nashville. Along the way, Boyd did a good job of focusing on what he could control and making incremental improvements to most aspects of his overall game.

http://www.scout.com/mlb/athletics/story/470233-oakland-a-s-top-50-prosp... Boyd came to the A’s in 2012 as a fourth-round pick out of Palo Alto High School. A two-sport star in high school, Boyd was a bit more raw than the A’s other top-10 round high school selections that season, but he got his career off to a strong start with an 835 OPS in 39 games in the Arizona Rookie League. Boyd followed up that performance with a team MVP season for the Vermont Lake Monsters in 2013, when he posted an 817 OPS in 71 games in the pitcher-friendly New York-Penn League.

Boyd ran into the first major challenge in his career in 2014 with the Low-A Beloit Snappers, when he struggled for the entire season, hitting only .226/.300/.319 in 125 games. Despite the down year, Boyd made the jump to High-A Stockton in 2015, as the A’s believed a change of scenery could give Boyd a boost. He responded with a solid season for the Ports, batting .277/.344/.389 in 132 games.

Because Boyd’s numbers were solid in 2015, it was surprising to see him have to repeat the High-A level in 2016. Boyd was bunched behind several minor league free agent and Rule 5 selections the A’s made during the off-season, however, and he spent nearly the entire 2016 season with Stockton. Early in the year, Boyd talked about focusing on improving his numbers with Stockton and not worrying about what he couldn’t control. His goals were to improve his batting average, get on-base more, increase his stolen bases and improve defensively. By the end of the year, Boyd was able to check off most of those boxes.

Boyd missed two weeks in May with a sprained ankle that sidelined him during a torrid streak at the plate, but he did post a slashline that was an overall improvement over his Cal League line in 2015. In 101 games for the Ports, Boyd hit .288/.346/.395 with eight homers and 34 walks. His batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage all improved over 2015 and he was able to lower his strike-out rate slightly. Boyd’s doubles and triples went down, but his homerun rate went way up. He also did a good job working the entire field and showed some opposite field power, hitting six of his eight homeruns to center or left field. Boyd’s improved batting average came despite a lower BABIP, which suggests he was a bit unlucky in the Cal League. He also improved his at-bats versus left-handed pitching significantly, batting .339 with an 822 OPS versus southpaws in 2016 after hitting only .255 with a 644 OPS against them in 2015.

Boyd finished the season in Triple-A, joining the Nashville Sounds for the final two weeks of the regular season and the post-season. He hit safely in five-of-seven regular season games with the Sounds and had four hits in nine at-bats during the post-season.

B.J. Boyd Stats

Year Level AB BA OBP SLG HR
2016 High-A 413 .288 .346 .395 8
2016 Triple-A 30 .267 .313 .267 0
Career 1768 .269 .342 .381 28

Oakland A’s Director of Player Development Keith Lieppman was pleased with how Boyd approached his assignment in Stockton this season.

“He’s understood that [he was behind several veterans who were at Double-A] and has done a good job of developing a really nice two-strike approach, fighting pitches off where before he might have swung-and-missed,” Lieppman said during the season. “Making an effort to get better pitches to hit and he’s shown some occasional power. He’s also gone to the opposite field well. He has been a lot more consistent with his at-bats and the numbers are showing that improvement.” 

A former running back, Boyd has plus speed and a muscular lower body, but he struggled with proper baseball conditioning early in his career. Although his body type is still far from traditional for a baseball player (he is thick and compact), Boyd is in much better physical shape than he was early in his career. He is still working to take advantage of his speed on the base-paths. His ankle injury slowed him for much of this season, but base-stealing is still an area where Boyd needs improvement. Boyd has always been durable. The ankle injury was his first major injury of his career, and he bounced back relatively quickly from that injury.

Although his power numbers weren’t staggering in 2016, Boyd showed all-field power in-game at times and, as his pitch selection continues to improve, he could see his power numbers rise significantly in the next year or two. With his bat-to-ball skills, Boyd should always be able to hit for average. He has good hand-eye coordination, which allows him to make contact on pitches that others may not be able to touch. Boyd is still learning what pitches he can do the most damage with, but his swing is quick to the ball and he gets good load on his back leg. If Boyd can shore up that pitch selection, his on-base percentage should rise along with his power numbers, as pitchers will be less prone to throwing him strikes as he shows he can hit for power.

B.J. Boyd Scouting Video

Oakland A’s Assistant General Manager Billy Owens compares Boyd’s approach and consistency at the plate to A’s infielder Ryon Healy, who always hit for average but grew into his power as he learned how to look for certain pitches to drive.

“Down-the-line, in Double-A, Triple-A and possibly the major leagues, [Boyd’s] power has a chance to develop and he could be a guy who hits double-digit homeruns,” Owens said mid-season. “Kind of comparing him to Ryon Healy, I prefer a guy who has consistent at-bats and make a considerable amount of contact. With the strength that B.J. has, down-the-road, he’ll do more damage.”

Defensively, Boyd split his time between center field and left field in 2016. He showed significantly more range in center in 2016 than he did the year before and acted as a field general in the outfield when at that position. Boyd has average arm strength, which limits him from playing regularly in right field, but it isn’t a hindrance in left or center. 

In many ways, Boyd is a faster, but less polished version of fellow A’s prospect [and 40-man roster member] Jaycob Brugman. Like Brugman, Boyd regularly puts together solid at-bats, sets the table well for the middle of the order and offers value with the glove. Brugman is able to take advantage of pitches to drive more consistently than Boyd at this point, but Boyd could blossom into a Brugman-like prospect next season. Boyd will be 23 until midway through the 2017 season. He should receive a promotion to Double-A to start the season. In 2017, Boyd will be looking to separate himself from other A’s outfield prospects in what figures to be a make-or-break year for his overall development. 


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