Bourn Finds Inspiration, Confidence in Many Places

Michael Bourn was the Phillies fourth round selection in the June 2003 draft and is spending his first professional season above single-A. Bourn hit .317 for Lakewood last season and is showing no ill effects from the big jump he was asked to make this spring. Phillies GM Ed Wade spoke very highly of Bourn before a game at Citizens Bank Park earlier this year, and he has not let Wade down through the first half of the Eastern League season.

Michael Bourn is a speedy young outfielder who has played center and right for Steve Swisher's club this year, and has been one of the few bright spots on a team that sits at the bottom of the Eastern League's Southern Division, ten games under .500. Bourn admits that its tough to continue to work hard when the team is not experiencing success, but says it has been easier with this team.

"It's hard when the team's losing but you just have to fight through it. It's easy when you have a manager like Swish. He stays right behind you and never gives up. When he's that confident in you, how can you not have confidence in yourself?" said Bourn.

Swisher has also helped Bourn with his own confidence level through some of the low points of a long Double-A season.

"He knows what goes through guys heads. He gives me confidence and I know he's right." said the 22-year old outfielder.

Bourn is hitting .276 with 3 homers to go along with 20 stolen bases and has yet to make an error in sixty-nine games in the outfield. He could very easily find himself on the Eastern League All-Star team that will be announced next week, even though he doesn't view that as a measure of success. Bourn simply hopes to improve his game so that he is well prepared to make another jump next year.

"I just work on my game and try to keep improving all year. I feel like it (the jump from Low-A to Double-A) was a challenge and I try and meet the challenge head on." said the likely centerfielder of the future for the Phillies.

Bourn believes he has learned things to help his game through the first half and he also notices a difference in the way pitchers approach him here as opposed to Lakewood.

"Down there, pitchers challenge with the fastball more to see if you can hit it. Up here, they will go back to a pitch if they see you missing it. Maybe not right away, but they will go back to it and after you see it enough, you get used to it." said Bourn.

The change in approach at the plate has been one of the hardest things for Bourn to adjust to at Double-A. He cited his one stretch this season where he struggled as proof of this change. He talked about his lack of discipline at the plate as a main factor in those struggles.

"When I struggled this year, I lost my discipline at the plate. That was most of my struggles this year. I just needed to relax." said Bourn.

Not only does Bourn know what causes him to struggle, he doesn't look up to any players at the Major League level. Even though he doesn't model his game after any particular player, he talks to Tampa Bay outfielder Carl Crawford to pick up pointers on his game. The two have been friends since childhood.

Bourn says his parents were the main reason why he decided to play baseball. His dad introduced him to the game when he was a baby and admits he was very lucky growing up.

"I was very lucky growing up. I never needed anything. My mom and dad were always there for me, taking me to the park or picking me up. I was two and my dad kept rolling me the ball and I threw it back. He would coach me growing up. He worked five to five everyday, would coach us until nine, get something to eat, go to bed, and do it all over again. You can't see that be anything but inspired." said the young outfielder.

Bourn takes this motivation and plays the right way every day. He has the talent and hustle to be a quality everyday centerfielder in the Major Leagues. With the current center-field situation in Philadelphia, Bourn could find himself in Philadelphia sooner rather than later. He will take that, if it comes his way, as just another challenge that he will meet head on.

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