Top Prospect #7: Michael Bourn

Coming out of high school, Michael Bourn had to choose between the University of Houston or the Astros of Houston. Luckily for the Phillies, he chose school and three years later, Bourn was drafted by the Phillies as part of their search to add speed to an organization not known for having much speed to burn.

The need for speed. The Phillies sought speed in the 2003 Draft and found it in several avenues. In fact, they found so much speed that they already jettisoned Javon Moran in a mid-season deal last year. Tim Moss has shown signs of breaking out of his early career slump and hopes to stay healthy. The other part of the speed equation is Michael Bourn.

Bourn came to the Phillies from the University of Houston and was their fourth round pick in '03. He quickly adapted to the rigors of professional baseball and has put together back-to-back strong seasons. In his first full professional season, Bourn swiped 57 bases and has totaled 80 stolen bases in just two years. Bourn has also had his on-base percentage over the .400 mark in each of his two seasons, providing plenty of opportunity to showcase his speed.

Scouts love Bourn because he does all of the little things right. He knows how to bunt to get on base, plays well defensively and works hard to improve his game. The fact is that had he not had a down season in his junior year, Bourn may have been picked even higher than the fourth round. The pressure of the upcoming draft was part of the problem and a wrist injury also hampered Bourn's junior season numbers. Now, he's healthy and has handled the pressure of professional ball and appears headed for an eventual spot in center field at Citizens Bank Park.

2003 Batavia 0 4 .280 35 125 12 35 0 1 23 23 28 .404
2004 Lakewood 5 53 .317 109 413 92 131 20 14 57 85 88 .433
Career 5 57 .309 144 538 104 166 20 15 80 108 116 .426

Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies out of the University of Houston in the fourth round of the 2003 Draft. Had previously been drafted by Houston in the 19th round of the 2000 Draft, but didn't sign.

Batting and Power: Bourn is all about getting on base. He does it by bunting, he'll do it by taking a walk and he also knows how to sling in hits. Some scouts were worried by his lack of doubles in college, feeling that they are a sign of future success, but Bourn increased his doubles production in 2004 and has shown that he simply knows how to get on base. Plus, with his speed, a single or a walk is basically a double anyway. The Phillies would like it if he could cut down on strikeouts a little. As for power, the five homeruns that Bourn hit at Lakewood may stand as a career high. There's just not much power to his game.

Baserunning and Speed: Granted that the Phillies don't have a whole lot of speed in their system, but Bourn may be the fastest. This is a guy who doesn't just use his speed to steal bases. He uses it to get on base by dropping occasional bunts and keeping defenses honest. He also uses his speed to get to balls in the outfield that most other players simply couldn't get to. His stolen base percentage (88%) has been exceptional in the minors.

Defense: With plenty of speed to get into the gaps to make plays, Bourn has a lot to offer defensively. He also simply knows what to do defensively and has good natural instincts. His arm isn't exceptional, but it's adequate.

Projection: The Phillies will keep Bourn moving along, sending him to Clearwater in 2005. It's going to see how the potential battle between Bourn and Chris Roberson plays out. Roberson is a level ahead of Bourn, but is also three years older. Don't count out the potential for Bourn to pass Roberson on the depth chart.

ETA: The Phillies are keeping their eye out for their center fielder of the future. Bourn should be major league ready by 2008 at the latest. He could also improve the timetable a little if all goes well.

Comparison: There is a belief in the organization that Bourn can be Juan Pierre and even more. The Phillies believe Bourn is a smarter player who is more adept at using his speed in all facets of his game and that he also has a better instinct for stealing bases than Pierre has. So, the comparison is there, but eventually, it may be Bourn that other players are aspiring to be.

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