Diamond in the Rough: T.J. Bohn

PEORIA, Ariz. - Spring training is a time for ball players to get the kinks out of their game, a month to familiarize, to knock the rust off, to get fully prepared for the season ahead. At least that's the general idea most buy into.

Watching right fielder T.J. Bohn make throws earlier this week on the first day of minor league camp, that theory went right out the window.

Bohn, a multi-tooled 30th round draft pick in 2002, stood in right field with two teammates, taking turns as hard line drives were hit to them. "Three," a coach yelled, specifying where to make the throw.

That's when the magic started. Bohn looked like he hadn't put a baseball down over the offseason, charging the balls as they skipped off the green Arizona grass and unleashing one frozen rope after another to third base, right on the money.

"Atta boy, T.J!" yelled a voice from the infield.

The blonde-haired Minnesota native has one of the top arms of any outfielder in the Mariners system, and he isn't afraid to show it off.

"I work hard at that and that's just sort of something that I can do," said Bohn, who started at Inland Empire last season before being promoted to San Antonio at mid-season. "I'm just lucky to have a good arm and I'm trying to be as accurate as I can with it and that just makes it that much better."

His arm and reliable defense are hardly his only tools, however. In fact, when it comes to pure tools, Bohn again is one of the top players in the system, joining the likes of Shin-soo Choo and Adam Jones. He has some power and speed to go with it, hitting 14 home runs and 12 steals in 2004.

As a low draft choice, nothing has been handed to him in his three seasons as a Mariner farmhand. He's been able to move through the system quickly, regardless, and last season went about as well as he could have hoped for.

"I just wanted to keep on learning and I did," Bohn said. "I'm still learning to this day. I'm just trying to stay consistent. I think the more experience I get, the more progress I'll make.

"It kind of feels like I'm earning my way instead of these high round picks who have got all this money and they are just pushing them. I've had to earn everything that I've gotten thus far."

The outfield in Triple-A Tacoma appears to be stocked in 2005 – with Choo, Jamal Strong, Chris Snelling and Greg Jacobs all likely candidates to play for the Rainiers – and Bohn realizes he may need to spend some more time in Double-A. As far as he's come, the prospect of doing that isn't a disappointment.

"I'm expecting to go to Double-A," he said. "I think I'm going to have to prove myself there. I think one half wasn't enough. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be there unless something happens this spring."

A full season of solid production at San Antonio this year, and some heads could start to turn.

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