Bohn Taking it One Step at a Time

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - This isn't a perfect world we live in, by any means. Things happen, maybe the way we want them to, but oftentimes not. When Thomas Joseph Bohn, Jr. was drafted by Seattle in the 30th round of the 2002 amateur draft, one could easily assume he'd have hoped to go slightly higher, if only just a few hundred players earlier, instead of being number 910.

Rather than count the teams who passed on him over two dozen times and vow to get back at them like some athletes you hear about, Bohn, better known as "T.J.," simply looked at it as a win-win situation.

"There wasn't much pressure on me. I wasn't one of those high draft picks that feels they have to do well," Bohn said. "Teams aren't expecting much out of a 30th-rounder, but I knew what I could do."

The Missions leftfielder has used this mantra to steadily make his way through the Mariners' farm system, taking a different approach to his future than most players.

"I don't really set goals number wise," Bohn said. "I just want go out there, have a good at-bat and play good defense every inning. My goals are more game-by-game."

Now in his fourth professional season, Bohn has trekked from Everett in 2002 to a mid-season promotion a year ago from High-A Inland Empire to Double-A San Antonio.

"I was just getting comfortable and the manager called me and told me I was going to San Antonio," Bohn said. "It was kind of exciting, and I just packed up and came here."

When combining his stats from both stops last season, Bohn hit .274 in 2004, driving in 66 runs and hitting 14 home runs. The Minnesota native was also named a California League All-Star for his time with the 66ers.

With the exception of a 19-point drop in his batting average, Bohn's numbers with the Missions virtually mirrored those with Inland, setting up higher expectations for this season. But yet again life through Bohn a curveball, one which for a time this season the 25-year old had trouble turning into a hit.

Bohn started this year hitless through almost three games versus Corpus Christ, going 0-10 in the process.

"I don't even know how to explain it," Bohn said. "I just started off slow."

And once again he rose to the challenge, bringing his average all the way up to a team-high .293 after 12 team-games. The righty is also leading his team in walks, runs, stolen bases and hits, with 12 in 41 at-bats.

"That's just the way baseball is sometimes. It sucks, but you've got to deal with it," Bohn said. "I wasn't doing much different after those first at-bats. I was still hitting the ball hard, but I've been working on a couple of things since then and now I'm just starting to feel comfortable at the plate."

An athletic outfielder with a good range of skills – capable of making the highlight reel with his glove and arm - it is a wonder how Bohn slipped so far on the boards on draft day, though in the end it turned out to be quite a blessing for the organization and Missions' manager Dave Brundage.

"From our standpoint it's a great draft pick, finding a guy with above average tools in all aspects of the game," Brundage said. "He just slipped through the cracks, and we're pleased to have him."

With only three years of professional ball to his name, Bohn feels he still needs more work on hitting, like most minor leaguers. Brundage sees a potential big-leaguer in him.

"His most impressive aspect is that he's got great baseball instincts, and you can't teach that," Brundage said. "That allows you to improve on a daily basis more than others. There are a lot of things that he brings to the table. He just needs to mature as a ballplayer, and by that I mean get more time on the field and more at-bats. He's got a chance to play in the big leagues."

Even with previous experience with San Antonio, the outfielder says he plans on being with the Missions for the entire season, unless events higher up in the Mariners' system cause otherwise. The team has shown marked improvement this year, and with some added consistency on offense it should be able to contend with the rest of the Texas League.

"I see myself playing a full year here, having to prove myself for a whole year," Bohn said. "You just learn from the game and pick up things here and there from the coaches that can help you be a better ballplayer."

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