The Real Nick Bourgeois Shows Up In Lakewood

With all the young pitchers coming along in the Phils minor league system, there is still one little concern about the pitchers of the future; Any good lefties? Of course, Cole Hamels leads the list, but after that, there are some holes and debates about whether or not there may be another quality major league left-hander coming along. Wednesday night, one of the young guns that the Phillies were counting on to step up this season finally gave Lakewood the kind of outing they expected.

Nick Bourgeois came into the season with high hopes. In fact, his hopes were almost as high as the ones that the Phillies had for the young left-hander. In Bourgeois, the Phillies thought they had found a guy who could be at least a middle-of-the-rotation kind of pitcher and in a world where left-handers rule, that was huge!

Everything was going well until the season started. Bourgeois looked good in minor league camp and everything seemed fine. Suddenly, a syndrome that has hit several Phillies young pitchers hit Bourgeois. He was simply throwing too many pitches. It wasn't a constant thing, but there were too many innings where Bourgeois would seem to lose focus and the pitch count would go through the roof. From there, Bourgeois tried to be too fine and to put everybody away with the first pitch he threw to them. That didn't work and before anybody really knew what was happening, Bourgeois was struggling.

Eventually, things got better, but not by any great strides. Bourgeois was throwing better, but his pitch counts were still high. It was tough for the lefty to put away hitters when he fell behind and there was starting to be some degree of concern.

Bourgeois is one of those all-American sort of kids. He's the guy that you would love to have dating your daughter. He's polite. He works hard and is dedicated to his friends and family. Heck, the guy even lives with his Grandparents, how much more likeable can you get? Nick Bourgeois also hates to fail. Since his hatred for failure or anything closely resembling it is so strong, our hero was scuffling not just on the field, but deep inside as well. One other attribute that Bourgeois brings to the table is brains. The kid knew that his world was one where you can fall quickly by the wayside.

Bourgeois had hoped for an invite to the Arizona Fall League, but it didn't come. Bourgeois admits that he was concerned about his future and that he was even starting to doubt himself a little as he took the mound Wednesday night. Little did he or anybody know that Bourgeois would take a big step toward turning around a season that was supposed to be strong from start to finish. He picked a perfect night for the turn around too, since many of the Phillies minor league staff were in attendance.

While the main problem of running deep counts and throwing too many pitches was still there, Bourgeois was a stronger pitcher than he had shown all season. He bounced back from full counts to put away hitters. He simply relied on his talent - not to mention a good fastball - to polish off hitters. As Bourgeois' offense struggled, he paid no attention. Bourgeois was a man on a mission. As his pitch count kept climbing, the Lakewood BlueClaws finally found some offense to at least take a 1-0 lead.

Even with his pitch count climbing, Bourgeois was hitting the low 90s on the radar gun in the sixth inning. He would "only" make it through seven innings and 104 pitches. Bourgeois allowed just two hits, no runs and walked just one hitter. The 2002 fourth round pick also whiffed a career high 10 hitters.

Is it possible that one game can completely turn around the thoughts of both Bourgeois and the Phillies minor league people? In this case, possibly. Bourgeois is a definite prospect. He has struggled and has bent, but has never broken. Wednesday night, he rebounded nicely. The trick now is to build on that one game. That's when the turn around truly becomes meaningful and Bourgeois again starts to push his way through the assembled group of young Phillies pitchers all looking for their futures.

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