Grading The Top Ten: Michael Bourn

Michael Bourn's numbers haven't been the flashiest that have ever come across a stat page, but the young outfield prospect is looking to stay steady and consistent. Bourn is currently showing signs that he is looking to get hot and continue boosting his stock.

It's easy to look at Michael Bourn's numbers at Reading this season and be underimpressed. After all, a .264 average is nice if you're projected as a utility player, but it doesn't cut it if you want to keep wearing the centerfielder of the future tag that Bourn wears in the Phillies organization. You simply have to know better and Bourn knows that.

Of course, another thing that you have to do is be consistent. That's something that Bourn has done not just this season, but throughout his career. He's currently hit safely in five of the last six games and is hitting at a .400 (10-for-25) pace over that stretch. You want consistency? How about the fact that Bourn has not gone hitless in back-to-back games since May 7 and 8 when he went 0-for-8? And even though his average hasn't been stellar, Bourn's speed hasn't disappointed. The 23 year old speed demon has stolen 18 bases while being thrown out just three times this season. When all is said and done this season, Bourn's stolen base numbers should rival those that he put up at Lakewood in 2004 when he swiped 57 bases and was thrown out just six times.

One area of Bourn's game that is a struggle is hitting left-handed pitching. Being a lefty himself, Bourn figures to hit a little less against southpaws than against righties, but his .224 average this season against lefties is simply too low. He's also been able to steal just four bases against left-handers as he looks to get a grip on reading their moves to first base.

After skipping Clearwater and coming to Reading last season, Bourn has found himself back at a more pedestrian pace by having to repeat AA ball. The bottom line is that while he's been steady and consistent, the Phillies believe that there is much more in Bourn and want him to repeat not just his stolen base numbers from two seasons ago, but his offensive numbers as a whole. Asking him to be a consistent .317 hitter like he was at Lakewood could be a bit of a stretch, but he should flirt with the .300 mark pretty much every season.

Early Grade - C+ : You have to love the fact that Bourn isn't staying off base for very long and he's finally putting together more and more multi-hit games (he had nine multi-hit games in May). That's the kind of stuff that the Phillies want to see him do. The key to that is cutting down on his strikeouts. Bourn is on a pace to whiff 113 times this season, which is a mild improvement over his 123 strikeouts last season at Reading, but not enough.

The Phillies love Bourn's aggressiveness, but need him to develop a more disciplined aggressiveness at the plate. He tends to do too much in one at bat and looks to make contact with everything that's thrown rather than draw a few more walks. The whole key to Bourn's 2004 season was the fact that he drew almost as many walks as he had strikeouts (85:88) and he needs to get back to that sort of ratio and be more selective with what he swings at. His current pace of 59 walks just isn't enough to allow him to really put his speed to use.

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