T.J. Bohn: The Sleeping Giant has Awoken

Perhaps the biggest sleeper in the Mariners minor league system today is that of T.J. Bohn, a 30th round selection in 2002 who is putting it all together in his third season of pro ball at Inland Empire. Find out more about Bohn, who InsidethePark's Jonathan Bianchet talked with recently, in this overly-due writeup on the rangy outfielder.

Run, throw, field, hit, and hit for power.

When it comes to baseball, this is the equation that is considered to be a five-tool player. Few players have this ability and many who do are known on a first name basis: Barry, Sammy and Vladimir immediately come to mind.

Down at Single-A Inland Empire, a name to remember is T.J. Bohn. Bohn (pronounced Bahn), a rangy right fielder, is opening the eyes of many with his rocket arm, explosive bat and surprising speed.

"I'd like to think there is not a bad area of my game," said Bohn, who was a 30th round draft pick by the Seattle Mariners in 2002.

The 6-foot-5 inch outfielder from Minnesota is off to a torrid start to the 2004 season. In the month of April, Bohn hit .338 with two home runs, nine RBI, 17 runs scored, and walked as much as he struck out. So far in the month of May Bohn likely will eclipse his numbers in April. He has two more home runs to go along with seven RBI, eight runs scored and a .278 batting average in May

. Bohn ended the month of April in grand style by getting a hit in the last 10 games. The streak ended two days later at 12, the longest of his three-year career and the second longest thus far in the California League. Also, during the same stretch, Bohn reached base safely in 21 straight games, from April 18 to May 8, the longest such streak in the California League. In his 32 games this year, Bohn has reached base safely in all but three of the games, giving him the fourth best on-base percentage in the league.

"I feel comfortable with my approach," said Bohn, whose previous longest hitting streak was nine last year in Wisconsin. "I'm not hitting the pitches that pitchers want me to hit. I'm swinging at my pitches."

But while he has been off to dynamic start this season, it may have been expected of him.

In the final month of the 2003 season, Bohn had nearly identical numbers as he does to start this season. Playing in 25 games, the maturing hitter batted .345 with 30 hits, 17 runs scored and 12 RBI. He also walked 19 times and struck out 20. In the entire month of August and in the final game of the season in September, Bohn reached base safely in 23 of his final 27 games. Add that to his start this season and Bohn has reached base safely in 52 of his last 59 games.

Quite a stretch for a young man that slipped all the way to the 30th round in 2002.

"A better understanding of the strike zone has been key for him," said manager Daren Brown, who managed him last season in Wisconsin. "In the second half of last year, he learned how to hit, and he has now continued it over to this year, which is nice to see."

While Bohn can hit for average and power, two of the ingredients of becoming a five-tool player, it hasn't hurt his production in the field. Bohn, simply put, can throw and field with the best of them.

Last year in Wisconsin, Bohn gunned down 20 base runners. He had 24 career assists entering this season, and in little over a month, he has already thrown out six runners.

"He is an outstanding fielder with an accurate and strong arm," said Brown. "Because of that he has been able to shut down the first to third running by the opposition."

Bohn attributes some of his success at the beginning of the year to his extra work he put in before spring training.

After playing winter ball, Bohn left the cold region of Minnesota in the middle of January and headed to sunny Peoria, Arizona to get an early start on the upcoming season.

"It helped me get ready and work on things I needed to work on to get prepared for the season," Bohn said.

Solid in every area of his game, Bohn can also run despite his large frame. This season he has stolen three bases and he has 26 in his professional career. He also has enough speed to be able to play center field, a position he has played 23 times in the last two years.

It is scary to think that he is still learning, maturing, and growing into his body. Given more time, there's no telling how high the ceiling is for the tall blonde outfielder.

"If I do something wrong, I'm going to learn from it and not do it again."

Once that happens, fans in Seattle may soon be accustomed to referring to T.J. Bohn simply as T.J.

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