Boesch was the Tigers third round pick in 2006 out of the University of California, where he was long considered a toolsy, but enigmatic prospect, just like teammate Chris Erracart. Boesch signed quickly for a reported $445,000.
As with most college prospects the Tigers draft, Boesch made his pro debut with Oneonta of the New York-Penn league. Working nearly everyday for the O-Tigers, Boesch finished the season with a .291/.344/.435 line that included 26 extra-base hits and 54 RBI.
The Tigers promoted Boesch to West Michigan for the 2007 season, and the more advanced pitching and pitcher-friendly environment sapped some of the juice from his numbers. Boesch finished with only a .267/.297/.378 line that was a significant disappointment. Though Boesch did manage 10 home runs and 19 doubles, his walk rate decreased dramatically; walking just two more times than he did at Oneonta (23 versus 21), despite playing in 56 more games.
As a 23-year old in 2008, Boesch played the entire season with High-A Lakeland. His batting average slipped again, dipping to just .249, and while his walk rate bumped up a little, his strikeout rate leapt forward.
Following two lackluster seasons, the 2009 campaign proved to be the breakout everyone was waiting for from Boesch. Though he didn't work many walks, and struck out at a rate or nearly once per game, he ripped 26 doubles and 28 home runs, while driving in 93 and stealing 11 bases in 13 attempts.
The name of the game is simple for Boesch, as he is a power hitter through and through. Most scouts tossed around plus-plus or 70 power for Boesch, though one scout felt his power may warrant an 80 grade. Boesch can hit balls out to any part of any park on the planet, and his power is absolutely prodigious to the pull side. He gets the bat to the zone quickly and he rips the barrel through the hitting zone with incredibly muscular upper and lower arms.
For all his power, Boesch has some very significant kryptonite. Most scouts see significant holes in his swing, and a susceptibility to breaking balls in nearly any part of the zone. He lacks the pitch recognition skills to consistently work counts, and he has a below average hit tool as a result. There will always be a lot of swing and miss in his game, and it is a matter of whether his power will be enough to make up for what will likely be a lot of strikeouts and a very low on-base percentage.
Boesch is an average runner. His jumps in the outfield are fringy at best, and most scouts I spoke with see at best, an average defender. He can make most of the plays in right field, and he has an above-average arm with decent carry.
His makeup rates as a positive in his favor, and he does a solid job of keeping his mind focused on the present and not letting poor plays in the field or poor at-bats, impact the task at hand on the field. He is unlikely to be a star, but his power is difficult to ignore, and he will get chances to nail down a corner outfield spot if he continues to blast balls out of the park.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% AA
Boesch is a legitimate physical specimen. He has huge arms and tons of muscle. He works diligently at his craft, and he has a thirst for working out. Boesch has not sustained any significant injuries to this point in his career, and he has regularly played through the minor bumps and bruises that plague every player.
After crushing the pitchers throughout the Eastern League, Boesch is almost a lock for the Toledo roster on Opening Day. The experience in Triple-A will be a great experience for him, as he will face more experienced pitchers that will challenge his ability to control the strike zone and force him to improve on his weaknesses.
Boesch has the stuff to be a monster power hitter, but he must take steps forward with the rest of his offensive approach to make that happen. With another big year in the minor leagues in 2010, Boesch could be in the running for a spot in Detroit in 2011.
Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.