With their third pick in the 2006 draft, the Tigers took Cal outfielder Brennan Boesch. Boesch has been a top notch talent since high school, having been named a Pre-season High School All-American by Baseball America in 2003. Also in high school, Boesch batted .466 as a junior and .490 as a senior, on his way to being named All-CIF Southern Section, 1st Team All-League, All-Los Angeles Times, and the Pacific Palisades Post Player of the year, all as a senior.
Brennan posted an impressive .284/.365/.541 line in 33 games as a freshman for the Bears, and then proceeded to struggle through a challenging summer on the Cape. He broke out in a huge way as a sophomore, logging a .355/.436/.567 season, while also taking home 1st Team All-Pac 10 honors and being named his team's Co-MVP. After such a spectacular second season, great things were expected of him, as evidenced by his appearance on the NCBWA Preseason All-American 1st Team, and the Baseball America Preseason All-American 2nd Team. Boesch didn't have the monster season some were expecting, but he did post very good numbers, including 11 doubles, 10 homeruns, and 42 RBI in 54 games. His junior efforts put him on the Brooks Wallace Award watch list, and earned him Honorable Mention All-Pac 10 honors.
Along with many of his fellow collegiate draftees, Boesch debuts in the New York-Penn League, where he continued his offensive display. While never putting together that one spectacular stretch, Brennan finished the summer with 26 extra base hits, and ended up tied for second in the NYPL in hits (85), tied for 4th in triples (6), tied for 8th in slugging (.435), and even led the league in RBI with 54 in 70 games.
Boesch is an immensely talented player, who still has to grow into all of his abilities. He's an above-average runner with good instincts both on the bases and in the field. He tracks balls well off the bat and gets tremendous jumps on balls hit to every part of the field. His arm is strong, accurate, and generates plenty of carry. He has experience in center, which helps him work well with his teammates on balls hit to the gaps. He profiles as more of a corner outfielder in the pros, and will likely spend most of his time there moving forward.
He is a naturally strong kid, with some good loft, but more of a line drive stroke. He drives the ball from line to line with authority, and should develop more homerun power as he matures physically and learns which pitches to pounce on for that big hit. In addition, Brennan has very good contact abilities, and should hit for average as a pro. He controls the strike zone very well, displaying a focused, patient approach at the plate; an approach that he has shown a willingness to adjust as necessary. He was a little over-aggressive in his pro debut, but that should iron out as he settles in to the professional rhythm.
Brennan is thought by many to be a cocky or arrogant player, but he insists its just plain old confidence. He plays the game with a desire that wills him to succeed, and his supreme confidence in his ability allows him to easily overcome mistakes on the field. He hasn't had extensive success with wood bats in the past, but some of that is thought to be a simple swing adjustment. He profiles as someone capable of hitting .280-.290 with 30 home runs at his peak.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% SS-A
Brennan has not experienced any significant injuries to date. As he adds bulk to his frame, he will need to work to remain limber and able to move well in the outfield.
Because of the outfield crew heading from West Michigan to Lakeland in 2007, Boesch will head to West Michigan, despite the fact he could probably handle a jump to the Florida State League. The ‘Caps outfield has the potential to be absolutely electric with Gorkys Hernandez being flanked by Boesch and Deik Scram; all three superb defenders with outstanding offensive potential.
Boesch's power is likely to be sapped at home, and his deflated numbers could mask how good he really is. Don't be fooled by just looking at the aggregate in 2007, because it likely won't tell the whole story. Boesch has the potential to develop into an impact player, and it could begin to happen as early as this year. He was expecting to put in an off-season of intense work and preparation, and the results could show quickly. Boesch should crack the Tigers top ten prospects by this time next year.
Mark Anderson covers the Tigers' minor league system and all of minor league baseball for TigsTown.com. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.