Name: Alex Bregman
Height/Weight: 6’0’’, 185
If you asked the typical baseball fan to name one player in this year’s draft, I think most would answer Brady Aiken. If you said to name a second I think the most likely name that would come up is Alex Bregman. Bregman has been making an impact and has been talked about as a top pick since the day he arrived at Baton Rouge.
Bregman has been discussed steadily for three years as a top selection in the 2015. As a middle infielder who has done nothing but hit this should not be surprise. He has done it all at a top program in LSU and in the top baseball conference, the SEC.
Before I dive into the scouting take on Bregman, I am going to look at the numbers and why they show that, if anything, Bregman’s stock should be up this year. This season Bregman has a slash line of .333/.410/.622. His ISO and AB/HR are way up this year, a sign that his power is emerging. While those numbers have gone up, his strikeouts are down and he is posting the lowest BABIP of his college career. This would show that he has been unlucky this year despite what his production shows. Basically, he has done everything to prove to his critics that he is a legitimate top prospect.
The major knock on Bregman is that most don’t think he can stick at shortstop. The last time I checked, finding a second baseman that can play above average defense and be a top five bat at the position would still be very valuable. There were only three second baseman in all of baseball to post a .350 on base percentage last year, which is something I think Bregman could do.
Bregman is an average athlete and teams often look for more athleticism up the middle. This is part of the reason why people think he will move off of short. He is a steady player, so there is a chance he could play at short but the range is lacking.
When I look at Bregman’s tools, none of them would rate below average for a second baseman. Every skill is at least average with a plus hit tool. It is a competition between Bregman and Cincinnati’s Ian Happ for the best current hit tool. Bregman also shows some very good pitch recognition skills. This year he has struck out just six times in 135 at bats. He rarely swings at a bad pitch and knows how to work the count.
I mentioned the likely position switch for Bregman, but I think his bigger sticking point for his critics is his familiarity. He was drafted by the Red Sox in 29th round in 2012. The reason he went so late was that he was known to have a hard commitment to LSU. Then Bregman became the national freshman of the year. As a sophomore, he had a “down year”, finishing with a slash line of .316/.397/.455. This year he has statistically improved in every way possible offensively. He is the most well-known and seen college baseball player. I think the old axiom that familiarity breeds contempt might apply to Bregman. I have seen it happen in all sports in every draft. You see a guy so much that after a time you stop seeing what a player can do and only see what he can’t do. For some reason it always seems that flaws are more magnified than skills.
The comparison section took me a bit longer for Bregman. At the start of the year, I was thinking a comp of Daniel Murphy with above-average defense. Then I watched more clips, looked deeper at the numbers and decided that Bregman has more pop than Murphy. So I wanted to find a second baseman around six feet with 30-doubles power and a good eye at the plate. I dug very deep and the player who I found to fit the ceiling was Jose Vidro. I know some people might not remember the former Montreal Expos star, but his career slash line of .298/.359/.445. At his peak, he walked more than he struck out and was good for 30-40 doubles, in the teens in homeruns, and was a .300 hitter. This might be an aggressive comparison. It’s not quite as aggressive as the always popular Dustin Pedoria comparison. Bregman is bigger and I don’t see the steal potential that Pedoria had.
I have had Bregman near the back-end of the top-10 in every mock draft. He is one of the few players in the top-10 at the start of the year who has actually improved his stock. I think he will be the second college bat off the board this year, and I have a hard time seeing him get past Boston again. They are the team that drafted him out of high school and the Red Sox like to take up-the-middle players early. Up-the-middle bats are always valuable, especially when they have a track record like Bregman’s.